Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Black Book of Secrets, by F.E. Higgins- Review

Sometimes books sit in my To be Read pile far longer than they should, not on purpose of course but just because I have soo much to read.  F.E. Higgins' three books, The Black Book of Secrets, The Bone Magician and The Eyeball Collector have all been sitting on one of many lovely bookshelves for several months now; apparently just waiting for my Scary read-a-thon.  And thank goodness, because they're perfect!

The last time I attempted to read Middle school (9-13 years old) horror was probably when I was about 11 and read my first Goosebumps book.  Too scary at the time, quite possibly still too scary.  Cool, but lending itself to far too many insane nightmares and general creep-outed-ness.
 I told you I was (am) a chicken.
It's a shame F.E. Higgins wasn't writing back then, because The Black Book of Secrets would have been perfect for me, creepy but without the content that typically gave me the night terrors.  And since that often involved waking up screaming or freaking myself out until I had to crawl into bed with my mom, then I'm sure it would have been appreciated by her as well.

Ludlow Fitch has had a bad start in life, easily introduced in the first few of lines of the book:

When I opened my eyes I knew that nothing in my miserable life prior to that moment could possibly be as bad as what was about to happen.  I was lying on the cold earthen floor of a basement room lit by a single candle, no more than an hour's burning left.  Instruments of a medical nature hung from hooks in the beams.  Dark stains on the floor suggested blood
Did I mention she had me at the very first line?
Ludlow has made an attempt to turn his childhood misfortune around, by leaving the City and ending up in the remote village Pagus Parvus.  Here he meets Joe Zabbidou, a Secret Pawnbroker and becomes enmeshed in the villages darkest secrets, all in quick succession.  It turns out people can do some pretty awful things when they're in a bind, but Joes Pawnbroker services are not to cast judgment but to help with the burden of guilt.  What remains to be seen is weather Joe and Ludlow will be allowed to walk away after hearing these secrets, or have they forfeited their freedom for them?

F.E. Higgins used some really scary materials here, giving the story great creepy overtones, but still managing to keep it light enough that it likely wouldn't scare the pants off a young kid.  And there are some great gross out moments I can just picture little boys going crazy over.  My favorite was when Jeremiah picks something out of his teeth only to discover it was a rat toe.  I can so vividly picture it, and as creepy a moment as it was I just have to smile.  Which for me is one of the best parts of this story, it kept the creepy fun.

I'm really looking forward to the next two books, I can't wait to see what the next two titles mean!

The Black Book of Secrets, by F.E. Higgins
Published by Macmillan children's books, 2007


  1. The black book of secrets was awesome. the best fuckin book i ever read!!