I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
When I received this review request from author Bev Stout, my first instinct was to turn it down. It's not my normal read and frankly, I was swamped. But I never turn anyone away without reading at least the first few pages. I'm so glad I did since I was immediately hooked and drawn into Annie's world.
I can't even begin to say how much I loved Annie. From the very first moment we met her, my heart bled for this strong girl. Following along on her adventures was a real treat. She's intelligent, curious, and hard working. Many boys in that time wouldn't survive a week on the Realm, yet Annie manages through perseverance and enough moxie to make her character leap of the page.
The long cast of characters on the Realm were so interesting. Christopher, the crippled former cabin boy was especially endearing. I really wish I could adopt dear, sweet Christopher. Captain Hawke was somewhat of an enigma. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Stout takes his character in the next book. Symington, Barrette, Abigail, and Doc are just some of the many characters that make Secrets of the Realm an interesting story.
This novel is a very fast read; I couldn't put it down once I started reading. It was so easy to become lost in the story. Ms. Stout combines rich descriptions with entertaining dialogue and nonstop action to create a memorable coming of age tale. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the ending. It had what I consider a realistic ending. The last page or so did help make up for my disappointment.
Secrets of the Realm is a great novel for everyone middle school and up. I know this is just the kind of adventure that my son and his middle school friends are always on the lookout for. It doesn't really matter that the main character is female. I think this novel will appeal to boys and girls alike. If you're looking for an exciting read that will sweep you up into a world full of adventure, add this one to your to-read list.