Saturday, March 30, 2013

13 Secrets

13 Secrets is the conclusion to Michelle Harrison’s 13 trilogy. Tanya is coming back to her grandmother's estate for summer vacation and looking forward to seeing Fabian and Rowan again. After the events of the second book Rowan now lives at the manor… but she still has some secrets she has not revealed. Tanya and Fabian soon find that Rowan belongs to a clandestine organization that fights against the changeling trade- the kidnapping of human children by fairies. This was hinted at strongly in the second book of course, but here we find out just how involved she was with them and just how dangerous it is. Someone or something is hunting members of the organization down- can the killer be stopped before all is lost? And how is this related to a decision Rowan made that may have disastrous consequences for them all? 

In many ways I thought this was the best book of the series. Harrison seems to improve with each outing. The setting is well- realized, the plot moves along briskly and there are enough surprises and betrayals to keep you guessing. I liked the fact that the villain, when revealed, had a plausible (albeit twisted) motivation. The only quibble I have is everything seemed a little too connected at the end, a little too convenient how some of the pieces came together, but this is a minor point. The fun factor and surprises along the way make this a page- turner.

Some reviewers have noted the overall lack of romance in this series, and it seems appropriate given the young ages of the protagonists. In this third volume however we begin to see some romantic entanglements, both between Rowan and Sparrow (a streetwise ally with a heart of gold) and also between Fabian's father Warwick and Rose (Rowan's mother). The various members of Rowan's group are also a nice addition to the story. Everyone has a secret and no one can be trusted.

13 Curses

13 Curses is the sequel to 13 Treasures. This book picks up right where the first one left off, with Rowan having saved Tanya's life and taking her place in the fairy realm. Of course Rowan has reasons of her own for wanting to be there- she is looking for her brother who was abducted by fairies. The story gets off to a quick start and it doesn’t take Rowan long to get in serious trouble! She gains a companion who will be familiar to readers of the first book, and together they have to escape some early trouble and make their way to the fairy court in order to get her brother back.

Unfortunately for Rowan the fairy court doesn’t play nice, and in order to rescue her brother she will need to find 13 charms- charms that correspond to 13 treasures of fairy lore. The fairies have scattered the charms to parts unknown, and the rest of the book concerns Rowan’s efforts to find them, aided by her friends Tanya and Fabian. The problem for Rowan and her friends is that finding the charms may not be the hardest part… surviving the hunt for them may be! Will Rowan manage to find the pieces and reunite with her brother? 

This book is significantly longer than the first one, which was fine with me since I enjoyed the first one a great deal and was looking forward to spending more time in the world of Tanya and Rowan. If anything this book is even darker in tone than the first one. Rowan makes a fateful decision early on that will have serious repercussions for her in the next book. The thing I like about this series is that the characters have shades of grey- not everything is as it seems and you never know when the rug is going to be pulled out from under them. As with the first book there is a major plot twist towards the end that I didn’t see coming. It really makes you think, what would I do in that situation? There may be no right answer…

One of my favorite moments in the book is an absolutely hair- raising scene where Tanya, Fabian and Rowan have to dig up a grave and then break into an old church Let’s just say they find more than they bargained for! 

13 Curses is highly recommended for anyone looking for a little mystery, suspense and a few surprises.  

13 Treasures

Tanya’s life is a mess. Her parents are divorced and she gets frequent visits from nasty fairies. Tanya can see the fairies but no one else can… as far as she knows. These aren’t your standard fairies though… these fairies seem to delight in tormenting her and cause all kinds of problems. After one such episode she is sent to stay with her grandmother in the country. That’s where the trouble starts.

13 Treasures is the debut volume in Michelle Harrison’s dark trilogy. Set in England, it’s
 a YA book with some nice twists and turns. As Tanya adjusts to life at her grandmother’s old estate, she becomes friends with the caretaker’s son Fabian and together they investigate a local mystery. They soon discover that there is more to the estate than meets the eye. Secret tunnels, a mysterious wood where people disappear and some absolutely nasty fairies make for a compelling read. And of course secrets abound- what is her grandmother hiding from her? And why is the house full of fairies?

As the story progresses more and more secrets are uncovered and perhaps no one is who they seem to be. A new character, Rowan Fox, is introduced about halfway through the book and while my initial reaction to her situation was skepticism, she quickly won me over. Her story adds a layer of moral complexity to the story. Tanya and Rowan, with the help of Fabian, have to make some hard choices and discover some unsettling truths that will change them forever.

I picked this up on a whim, having not heard anything about the series, but I was quickly hooked. Harrison weaves an interesting setting that seems modern and yet could have taken place 20 or 30 years ago. No one appears to have cell phones for example, which means the kids have to do things the old- fashioned way. I found this refreshing as the presence of a smart phone or two might have made some things a lot easier, but the kids don’t have the advantage of calling for help and have to survive by their wits. The revelations at the end were a welcome surprise, and there is a major plot twist that I didn’t see coming. I love it when a book surprises me and this book delivered