The Thirteen Secrets by Michelle Harrison

The Thirteen Secrets is the final instalment in Michelle Harrison’s wonderful trilogy involving the relationship between faeries and humans.  I adored her first two books, The Thirteen Treasures and The Thirteen Curses and I anticipated the latest novel with a mixture of sorrow, excitement and dread – sad because it was the signalling the end of my interaction with well-loved characters, excited to see how these characters would develop and the tiniest hint of dread that I might be disappointed.  Fear ye not as the author does a fabulous  job of bringing events at Elvesden Manor to a close whilst introducing us to some intriguing new characters.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but suffice to say that you are in for a real treat.  Rowan (Red) is living at Elvesden Manor and she is doing her utmost to lead a “normal” life with Tanya, Fabian and co.   Of course “normality” is off the menu when you live in a fairy-infested house, fairies in the grandfather clock, a tea caddy brownie in the kitchen complete with walking stick and a drain dweller in the bathrooom whose belches smell like rotten eggs.  However, Rowan is haunted by nightmares from the past and it would appear that everyone, human and fairy alike, is harbouring some sort of secret, some of which have dreadful consequences.

This is an even darker tale than the preceding novels, perhaps due to the increasing maturity of the characters who have already experienced the dark and light side of faeries.  We have already seen the malevolence of the Unseelie Court, the random removal of human children replaced by changelings, the vindictive nature of Tanya’s faerie guardian  but things take an even more sinister turn in this volume with the battle between good and evil becoming a fight between life and death.  Some scenes are reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, especially the battle between Aslan’s followers and those of the White Witch – stirring stuff which doesn’t pander to those of an overly sensitive nature so expect tears amidst the smiles and rejoicing!

So, the feeling of dread has vanished but there is still some residual sadness that the 13 series is over.  At least I will have the pleasure some day of reading the trilogy aloud to my daughter (who, at 7, is still at the Tinkerbell stage..)   I highly recommend this whole series to children of all ages (9-99) who believe in some sort of magic and who don’t automatically attribute those odd noises in the bathroom to faulty plumbing!

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