Secrets in the Dark by K. D. Blakely follows the adventures of Kat and her two best friends–who definitely didn’t expect to fall into a magic world, when they were just trying to hide from a group of bullies. They discover that an old tree in the town cemetary is a portal to another realm. Every full moon, they and their friends can pass through to the magical world of Chimera. It would be great…if the bullies didn’t keep following them, and if something hadn’t gone horribly wrong in Chimera, causing everyone living there to disappear.
This story is a lot of fun, and very engaging throughout. The characters are my favorite part. There’s a big cast of kids, but I never had trouble keeping people straight or telling them apart–and I’m not very good at that! Kat is part of a group of five and there are four people in the group of bullies, so that’s quite a few people…but they all come to life as clear and distinct. Kat and her friends all have their quirks, as well as their strengths and their flaws, and I particularly enjoy how they all have to work together with their different skills to deal with the challenges of Chimera.
Kat is a very likable narrator. She’s not perfect but she is appealing, making for the best kind of heroine. She’s twelve-going-on-thirteen, and is struggling to accept how much her world is changing. It’s a very believable and sympathetic part of her character, and so appropriate for her age.
My favorite character may be one of Kat’s friends, Brady. He’s super-intelligent, and talks that way. His dialogue and the way he sees the world is so entertaining. There’s also one major older character, Kat’s sister-in law, Ronny. She has a special connection to Chimera, and does not always fit comfortably in the normal world. In particular, she constantly gets sayings wrong–like “slow and steady wins with grace,” or “the grass is always cleaner on the other side of the fence.” So much fun–and sometimes her sayings make a strange amount of sense!
I’ll end with one of my favorite aspects of the story: thanks to a wish that came true in an unexpected way, all the kids have familiars when they’re in Chimera. The story is just asking for promotional-tie-in stuffed animals. 🙂 Kat and her friends have fun and adorable animals like a tiny owl, a cat and a fox. They don’t talk, but they’re intelligent and often help as the kids explore the world. The bullies, on the other hand, get rather nasty animals like a rat and a pig, which they keep trying to chase away. The whole situation really makes me want a familiar…and who wouldn’t want a chance to explore a magical world?
If you find a tree (or a wardrobe) that lets you into a magical world, then by all means, have fun…but in the meantime, I highly recommend reading your way into the adventure!
Author’s Site: http://Kat-Tales.net