Sunday, 5 April 2020

Review - The Secrets of Hawthorne House

Matt's life changes forever when a family of druids moves into the dilapidated Victorian mansion next door. The story of an unlikely friendship, the clash of two completely different cultures, secret magic, and a search for the lost Hawthorne treasure.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell was having the worst summer imaginable. Matt’s misery started when a drunk driver killed his mother. Then his father moved him and his twin sister to the small town of Hawthorne in rural Indiana, as far as his grieving father could take from the ocean that Matt's mother had loved. At the new high school, three bullies are determined to make Matt miserable. And to top it off, Matt learns that the recluse who lives in the 'haunted house" next door is none other than Old Lady Hawthorne, the town’s infamous witch and murderer. Matt’s terrible summer is turning into an awful autumn when something quite unexpected happens. Old Lady Hawthorne’s niece and her three children arrive, and Matt meets Gerallt.

My #1 reason for wanting to read The Secrets of Hawthrone House is because I love the cover, which reminds me of the mystery middle grade books that I read during my childhood, where a young protagonist is walking by an old (and possibly haunted house).

Yes, the beginning of this story is slightly cliched. I don't how many books I have read that have a family moving to a small town after a recent death and they either move in or near an old house or mansion.

For this story, the Mitchells move next door to the old Hawthrone House, which is supposedly owned by a witch. From that point in the story, I was convinced this was going to be a horror story, but it turned out to be the opposite. There's no horror of any kind. However, there's plenty of fantasy and adventure involving druids, which is a subject I'm not too familiar with besides the few Shannara Chronicles novels I have read. No, there's no sword & sorcery either, but there is a treasure hunt.

Overall, The Secrets of Hawthorne House is a well-written children's tale with likable characters and detailed descriptions. It's definitely worth reading!

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A geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He's also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat by his fear that the term "distinguished" makes him sound like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still slightly more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels, and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, and his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.

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