Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: Secret Letters

Author: Leah Scheier
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters.

But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits--and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective--to save her cousin's reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.

Ok, anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, sign me up! I mean honestly the man is a crazed genius and this book totally fits in the Victorian Era that I imagine every time I am transported to Sherlock’s world whether it is by a movie or within this book. Actually, all it took was the title for me here! Who can resist the word, “secret”? We are all about secrets and usually everybody has at least one or two that they would never share with anyone. The magnifying glass on the front cover gave away a little bit of the plot because I immediately assumed that we would be dealing with some type private investigating; that is just what automatically comes to mind when I see one. I guess I can thank Hollywood for that. This book is historical fiction that takes place in a Victorian London, which I believe I should have been born into. What is not to love about it based on the cover alone?

I absolutely love this author! Leah is probably one of the kindest that I have run across since I have been blogging! Her writing is just as sweet as her nature. She took a storyline with a Sherlock twist and made it a masterpiece. When an author takes an already well known piece of literature like Sherlock Holmes or any fairy tale, they are taking a chance in retelling it. All of the classics are already great so to rewrite one with a modern day twist or even a spin off in any context or genre is taking a huge risk. Leah, you did not disappoint, at least not in my opinion!

I have always wondered how authors go about writing mystery novels because they, of course, have to know the ending before they write it or at least have a good idea of where the story line is going to take them. Often times readers can pick up early what is going to take place in novels such as this. I was completely enthralled the entire time that I was reading this book. Even though I could guess which characters were involved I still was shocked and thrown off track by the end of the book. Leah added tiny little surprises that were waiting for readers within each chapter.

Dora is not your typical main female character. She is confident in herself but has a subtle way of showing it. This, again, is a time period when women were not meant to share the same professions or maybe even hobbies as men. Dora was a skilled investigator and she knew that, but she had to be careful as to how she let others on to her little secret. She is very inquisitive and like Sherlock, she does not give up when she knows there may just be a clue in her midst. Dora comes off as a mild mannered female lead and that is a nice change opposed to the attitude and sassy heroine that we are so used to reading about. Dora is a delicate character; however, she is also extremely clever but is not one to brag about any of her exquisite qualities. She allows her detective to do all the talking!

Peter Cartwright was the male opposite to Dora, as he was a young investigator as well. Peter was, at first, a quiet and cunning character. Later on readers learn that Peter’s past had a lot to do with shaping him into possessing a more harsh exterior than most young men his age. I loved the way that he treated and valued Dora’s investigative skills. Even though she was a woman and most would have frowned upon him doing so, he allowed her to help him and trusted her judgment throughout the story. Sometimes the best characters have more depth to them than meets the eye. Writing characters like these two deserves an award or a freshly baked cake or something commendable at least!!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest review***


  1. I absolutely loved this book. I love the Victorian era, and anything to do with Sherlock Holmes as well. Leah did an amazing job and I can't wait to see where Dora's next adventure takes her. Great review!

  2. This one sounds really good. Thanks so much for the review!

  3. never heard of this one but i like the premise of the story and love your review.