|4.5 Stars||35 Reviews||100%|
5 Star Reviews
20) Easy read with good flow, perfect vacation read ★★★★★
Although written for middle school age and high school, I found this a fun book to read as an adult. I was never bored. I also feel advanced elementary readers would enjoy it too. The main characters are between fifteen and seventeen years old, along with parents and an elderly aunt.
There is some discussion about bullies and being respectful to the beliefs of others.
The initial, major, section of the book is about the NEW kids at high school, who have trouble fitting in. When the bullies make it look as if Matt and Gerallt are the trouble makers, and teachers and parents believe the lies, the boys must prove they were set up. This also helps seal their best friendship. Difficult times allow for the two families to form even more of a bond, which is when further adventures happen. I don’t want to give too much away. Gerallt has some magical abilities that he is not allowed to talk about. Let’s just say that the boys give in to some temptations and must deal with consequences.
This is an easy read with a good flow. Perfect for a summer or vacation read.
19) Friendship, Magic and a Future! ★★★★★
The book starts slow, a little too wordy at times, but it builds to a great read. Two boys with similar heartbreaks in their families lead them to be best friends. Battling school bullies and revenge makes it hard to put this book down. Great read for kids, teens, and even this adult.
18) Middle schoolers will greatly enjoy this story. ★★★★★
By Sherri Packard on June 4, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
I enjoyed the story. Especially the interaction between the boys and the families. It skipped around a little but is an excellent read and will be fantastic for middle schoolers.
17) Wonderful story to read by a brand new author for me. ★★★★★
The Secrets of Hawthorne House by Donald Firesmith is a wonderful story that I have read and fallen in love with. I really loved reading this story with mystery and magic through the whole story and written by a brand new author for me to read. I highly recommend this story to everyone who loves mystery and magic in their stories.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
16) Great book ★★★★★
The Secrets of Hawthorne House is the first book in a middle grade and YA fantasy series about a family of magical Druids. After a drunk driver kills his mother, fifteen-year-old Matt, his twin sister, and their father move to a small town in Indiana. It just so happens that they move next door to the famous Hawthorne house, rumored to house a witch. Matt doesn’t believe in such fairy tales, but when he becomes best friends with Old Lady Hawthorne’s nephew, Gerallt, he finds a whole new world.
I loved this book and never took my eyes off the pages! I’ve never heard of the Goddess Modron or the Druids before, but I certainly know a lot about them now. Magic intertwining with religion and history is fascinating! How Gerallt used his magic to defend himself from the bullies was hilarious, and I found myself frequently laughing out loud! The plotline was extremely creative, and I loved how it kept constantly changing and evolving into new issues. Every chapter was a new adventure. This book was like the game Wack-A-Mole, but I was surprised at how everything was still blended together evenly.
Mythology aside, I loved the real-life message of being friends with people regardless of how they look or the reputation that they have. The theme of acceptance is very clear and the bullying extremely realistic. I’m not typically a fan of male protagonists, but Matt has such a kind heart that he is impossible to dislike. I enjoyed the journey of these two families coming together in the hardest of times.
I cannot wait to read the next book in this series! I highly recommend this book!
15) Great book ★★★★★
By Gwynn on April 13, 2019 (Amazon US Review)
Interesting story. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
14) Fun and Magical! ★★★★★ (actually 4.5 stars)
The Secrets of Hawthorne House is the first book I’ve read by Donald Firesmith, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. My sister has reviewed his Hell Holes series, so I figured it was time I discovered his writing as well.
This story has a middle-grade vibe to it but is also something that will appeal to young adult readers, and even adult readers. I may be 34, but I consider myself a kid at heart, and I love reading MG/YA stories more than anything else, I think.
The Secrets of Hawthorne House is, at its core, a story about family. The main character, Matt, has lost his mom, and now his dad is uprooting them all (Matt, his sister, his father) and moving them back to the small town his dad grew up in. And to make matters worse, the house next door is supposedly inhabited by a mean, evil witch (or so the rumors say). Needless to say, Matt has a lot he has to deal with.
But, as Matt soon discovers, not all rumors are to be believed, and some secrets are worth uncovering. Especially when the “witch’s” niece and her three kids move in next door as well. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Gerralt, and Matt finds himself befriending the strange boy.
I don’t want to spoil anything about the book and what’s really going on, nor do I want to give away the secret. I will, however, say that this was a really fun book. It’s got a lot of heart. I liked that Matt didn’t let the rumors about his neighbor keep him from interacting with her. I also liked how Gerralt was willing to jump to the aid of a boy he barely knew because of bullies. With how rampant bullying seems to be nowadays, seeing a victim with a friend who’s willing to stand up for them was nice.
The characters are all really well-written. I thought Matt’s dad, while a bit…off in his own world (understandable, though), he was a good, decent person who just wanted to do whatever he could to take care of his family. I also liked pretty much everyone else in the story, save for the bullies and the principal of the school (and a couple of the teachers too). They were the ones you just couldn’t help but dislike. Some more than others.
The book has an exciting plot, full of adventure and thrills. It was interesting to see how everything played out, and the pacing was good too. It didn’t lag, nor was it too quickly paced. I found myself intrigued and curious to know what the secret was, and what would happen after it was discovered.
And that ending… Well, I won’t spoil that, but it did make me even more interested in reading more by Mr. Firesmith.
Overall, The Secrets of Hawthorne House was a great book, and I’d recommend it to fans of mysteries, YA readers, and people who enjoy stories with paranormal elements. There’s a lot going on, but it’s well worth the read. Definitely check it out!
4.5 stars from me!
13) Readers’ Favorite Review ★★★★★
Fifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell lost his mother in an accident caused by a drunk driver. His devastated father moved him and his twin sister, Tina, from the Oregon coast to the small town of Hawthorne in rural Indiana. As he is the new kid in school, three bullies are determined to make Matt’s life miserable from day one. He also learns that the old recluse who lives in the dilapidated Victorian mansion next door is Lady Vivianne Hawthorne, the town’s infamous witch and murderer. Things become more strange and interesting when Lady Hawthorne’s niece, Gwendolyn Hawthorne, and her three children come to live with her. Matt forms an unlikely friendship with Gerallt, Gwendolyn’s teenage son, and discovers their secret culture and belief, magic, and eventually gets involved in the search for the Hawthornes’ lost treasure.
Rudy Parfaite’s cover art is the first attractive feature of Donald Firesmith’s The Secrets of Hawthorne House. It’s beautifully done and complements the story well. Engaging readers from the start, Firesmith doesn’t rush the story development, making the narrative flow deftly. It was easy for me to immerse myself in this coming-of-age urban fantasy combined with Celtic mythology. I was invested in the characters, their successes, and predicaments. The Hawthornes’ peculiarities are instantly intriguing, especially when Matt gets to know more about them through his friendship with Gerallt. The plot is well thought out, substantiated with imperative messages to the targeted readers on dealing with life’s hardships, the loss of a parent, bullying, and financial stress. There’s also the matter of dealing with discrimination and respecting others’ beliefs. As an adult, I found The Secrets of Hawthorne House truly enjoyable even though it’s for teen readers. A commendable work from Donald Firesmith, and I look forward to the sequel.
12) The Secrets of Hawthorne House ★★★★★
By Tamara Ingram on March 6, 2019 (Original Amazon US Review)
A really great book that I got from BookFunnel. Immensely enjoyable! I hope more are forthcoming!
11) Well done ★★★★★
By Anna del C. Dye on February 21, 2019 (Original Amazon US Review)
Matt and Tina Mitchell are twins who just lost their mother in an accident. Their father takes them far away from the seaside they love to the small town of Hawthorne. There they find themselves next door to the famous haunted house of the ghost of the gray lady. Matt needs some money and starts to clean the yard of the haunted house for Mrs. Hawthorn, getting to know her and her timid ways.
One day, her niece comes to live with her along with her three children. Matt becomes Geralt Hawthorne’s best friend and soon discovers that his family is not the common family he is adjusted to. Their secrets, their corky ways, no electricity, no games or computers make for an interesting friendship. Not only that, but the bullies at school are after them…they will have to pull together or be defeated.
This is a great, clean, and entertaining story for middle grade and young adult kids who like mystery, treasure hunts, and magic. It is nicely done by Donald Firesmith. I would keep my eyes out for the next book in this series.
I received a free copy in exchange for a honest review.
10) Nice Feel Good Book ★★★★★
By Jan Gray on January 8, 2019 (Original Amazon UK Review)
I quite enjoyed this book, teenagers dealing with school, the bullies and different backgrounds.
The different accents used took a bit to get used to (with the spellings ) but once I got used to it I found it fun.
The description was detailed enough to give a good picture of things but not too much so that it distracted from the storyline.
A bit of everything, sadness, stress, magic, joy and love amongst others. Well worth a go.
9) Watched by a Goddess ★★★★★
A great book for readers of all ages. Middle school and high school students will enjoy the humiliation of the school bullies. Adults will connect with the families trying to cope after death strikes. Two families from opposite sides of the country join to fight what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. But one group is hiding a secret that threatens to end the friendship. Donald Firesmith created a story that has humor, sadness, love and realistic characters. All this combines for a spectacular reading experience.I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book.
8) A lot of action packed into a well-written book ★★★★★
Firstly I am a big Harry Potter fan so this book was an excellent book for me! That is where the similarities stop!!!
After Sam’s wife died in an accident he uprooted himself and his children Matt and Tina to back to his home town. Their new home was next door to Hawthorne house, which was very run down. The rumors were that it was haunted and the old lady was a witch. Sam did not believe this and encouraged his young son to go there and offer his services to clean the yard for her.
Old Mrs. Hawthorne’s niece and three children moved in with her when the niece Gwendolyn lost her husband in an accident.
Matt soon makes friends with Gerallt and after being bullied at school, strange things kept happening. This is when the fun began.
There is a lot packed into this well written excellent book, there is so much more to this book and of course a happy ending.
7) The Secrets of Hawthorne House is full of history, mystery, magic and great characters. ★★★★★
Matt Mitchell lost his mother a year ago in an accident. Matt his twin sister Tina and their father move back to his father’s hometown so they can all get away from the memories that their mother Mary left behind in their cottage by the ocean.
After the move and without their mother’s income the family’s finances start to dwindle. Matt’s father is having a hard time keeping up with all the bills and things Matt and Tina want.
They move next door to the famous Hawthorne house. Old Lady Hawthorne a recluse known as the town’s witch and murderer. When Matt wants money for new games and CDs and other things, his Dad suggests that he go next door and speak with Lady Hawthorne about taking care of her lawn as it is in dire need of some repair. Matt takes him up on his idea and does just that. He asks Lady Hawthorne for a job and she abides.
Lady Hawthorne’s niece and her three children move in next door. Matt and the oldest son Gerallt become best friends in no time. Gerallt lost his father last year as well. The three Hawthorne children start school with Matt and Tina at Hawthorne High. Matt and Gerallt have a run of bad luck with three bullies at the school. Before long the bullies frame Gerallt and Matt for attacking them and other children which results in Matt and Gerallt getting in school suspension as well as grounded at home.
Matt and Gerallt are both very strong boys and are determined to set things right with the bullies and set out to prove their innocents and to prove to everyone including their parents that they didn’t do what they were accused of. Someone has to do something before someone gets hurt big time by one of the three bullies. How are Matt and Gerallt going to stop the three bullies? Can they stop them? Will their parents ever believe them again?
The Secrets of Hawthorne House is very intriguing and interesting with the history of the Hawthorne house. The stories of how the house came to be and who built it and how it got its name and the stories of all the Gods and Goddess were very interesting as well. The Secrets of Hawthorne House is full of history, mystery, magic and great characters.
When I was reading The Secrets of Hawthorne House it reminded me of the kids in Stephen King’s It and the kids in Stranger Things of how they stuck by each other no matter what they always had each other’s back and kept each other’s secrets. I can’t wait to see what the Mitchell’s and the Hawthorne’s have in store for us in the next book.
The Secrets of Hawthorne House is for anyone who loves a good story with lots of magic. If you like It and Stranger Things then I believe you will like The Secrets of Hawthorne House as well.
6) Is she evil, a witch, or just lonely and scared… ★★★★★
For Matt Mitchell, life had thrown him lemons and turned those lemons even more sour. He had lost his mother in a horrific accident and then his dad decided to uproot the family from his home in Oregon to Hawthorn, Indiana…a “nowheresville” sleepy town. Here was Matt, with no friends, just getting ready to start his first day in High School. As seems to be the norm in schools everywhere, Matt was excluded and tormented for no greater reason than being the new kid. The stories about the “crazy” next door neighbor and the killings in her house are almost more than Matt can handle. That is until he starts to help the neighbor with yard work. When the neighbor’s niece and kids move in, Matt meets others who are outsiders and he finally makes some friends. Only thing is, the kids are definitely different.
I received an ARC of this ebook. It was such a great story that I wanted to review it, And I hope that the author continues the saga.
5) You must read this delightful, magical book for all ages! ★★★★★
By Teresa Fronek on October 7, 2018 (Original Amazon US Review)
I’m extremely impressed with The Secrets of Hawthorne House, which was gifted to me. But unlike other books I’ve won or been given for an honest review, I genuinely loved this book! It begins quickly, draws you in, but never slows, so that once you finish one chapter, you’re on to the next. It’s the story of fifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell, who after losing his mother in a tragic accident and is forced to move far from his former home and life, finds a new life and a strong interest that begins next door. He’s intrigued by the”haunted” Hawthorne House next to his own, a house who’s inhabitant is said to be an old witch. Once he hears the true story of the mansion from his teacher, however, he’s compelled to meet the owner himself. What follows is his delightful relationship with the white-haired Lady Hawthorne or Mrs. Carter (ex) and when her extended family comes to stay…with Geralt. The rest is a mixture of magic and interesting experiences that allow him to get over his nightmares of his mother’s death and the sadness that had threatened to send him spiraling into a depression. I couldn’t wait to reach the end and find out the mysteries of the old house and its inhabitants! It’s such a delightful story and the first one I’ve read by this author but if this is any indication of his other works or if he continues to write more great books; he has found a fan in me!
4) The Secrets of Hawthorne House ★★★★★
By Kelly Pfister on October 4, 2018 (Original Amazon US Review)
This is the first book that I have read by this author and I am glad I did! Well-written and a great story.
3) An adventure that stays with you ★★★★★
By Lisa Caudill on October 3, 2018 (Original Amazon US Review)
This is my first book by Donald Firesmith but it definitely won’t be my last. The Secrets of Hawthorne House is not just one adventure but many and I didn’t want the book to end. The characters are defined and complex and it draws you in so subtly that I found myself talking to the characters! I would love to see these characters again. (hint, hint Mr. Firesmith).
2) The unlikely encounter of 2 families, one having mysterious origins and powers. ★★★★★
By Phillip L on October 3, 2018 (Original Amazon France Review)
The unlikely encounter of two families: one very normal, the other with mysterious origins and powers. I loved it. To read urgently. Thank you Donald for allowing us these delicious moments of reading.
1) Love this book ★★★★★
By Crystal Fenerty on October 3, 2018 (Original Amazon Canada Review)
Wonderful book and a wonderful story. Kept me guessing what would happen next as you get drawn into the two families and their building friendships. Recommend for all readers!
4 Star Reviews
12) The Secrets of Hawthorne House ★★★★☆
The Secrets of Hawthorne House is a good book. At first, I struggled with the fact that there was no one overarching dilemma or antagonist, that the problems were fairly small and quickly resolved. As I continued to read, though, I began to appreciate the “slice of life + magic” feel of the story. There are five well fleshed out characters, and the rest are background players. The only females that get any real play are both adults, and it would have been nice to learn more about the two teen girls, as they both have a lot of potential to add to the story. I probably would have given the book 5 stars, but there are editing issues, (i.e. questions with no question marks) that were somewhat distracting. Overall, a good book, and I look forward to reading more in this series.
11) A fun combination of modern times and ancient magic ★★★★☆
By Zach Spieth on April 23, 2019 (Original Amazon Review)
It was a very good book and I enjoyed it very much. It combines modern times and ancient magic to produce a very interesting plot line. The characters were well developed and easy to follow. Overall it was just a very good, easy read that would appeal to almost any reader. I would definitely recommend it!
10) A fun read that’s well worth it ★★★★☆
By Kathy Davie on April 18, 2019 (Original Amazon Review)
A standalone paranormal fantasy novel for Young Adult readers and revolving around a pair of unlikely friends who have both recently moved to Hawthorne, Indiana. I wouldn’t mind seeing this as a series…
For the first couple of paragraphs, I dove in with delight and then slowed. Firesmith was way too descriptive. Incredibly wordy! And then I slid all the way in, enjoying The Secrets of Hawthorne House with its focus on faith. And I did like Gerallt’s explanation of magic!
I loved that the boys stood up to the bullies and the loyalty of each of them to the other. The costuming and lifestyle of the Hawthornes were fascinating. I did have to wonder why it was still necessary for the candles and all, but it was a pip. And I certainly got hungry reading of Vivianne’s and Gwendolyn’s cooking!
It’s not just the bullying, but the nasty gossip that destroys people, which runs with a subtheme about ignorance and bigotry. Then there’s that contrast between Matt’s and Gerallt’s lifestyles that provides yet more interest, and with Firesmith using third person point-of-view, we get an impersonal perspective from all sides.
A few niggles. Why would Sam think he’d actually be able to cut it as a computer programmer? I’m not too keen on Matt’s self-entitlement. The “accent” was annoying, and yet I do understand why Firesmith made use of it. Then there’s Matt taking everyone out to dinner when he claims they’re so broke.
What’s with the bullies? How can teachers not know who the bullies are? It is unacceptable that these creeps are allowed to get away with it! As for their parents!?! WTF?? This is part of the problem with parents, that they refuse to listen to their children’s side of things. That they simply believe whatever the other side, the teachers, tell them without understanding that there are always two sides to any issue. What an incredible disservice to their own children! Oh, sure, I can believe that a parent who truly knows their child is bad would believe the teacher over their child, but these parents??? When they’ve never had trouble with them before?? No.
There’s plenty of conflicts: the bullies, the familial losses, the money issues of all three, religious and cultural differences, fears about witches and their craft, science versus faith, and those idiotic school employees who believe they can diagnose psychological issues.
Nor is the action lacking. I’ve already mentioned the bullies, and there’s also the assault, the treasure hunt, and Matt’s arrogance.
Life is forever changed when Matt’s mother is killed, and their father uproots them from everything they know.
But Matt’s life will change forever when a family of druids moves into the dilapidated Victorian mansion next door.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell is more nerd than his popular twin sister, Tina. Their dad, Sam, taught intro to programming back at Port Orford High School. Midnight is the family cat. Their artist mother was killed by a drunk driver back in Port Orford, Oregon. Uncle James.
The Hawthorne House
Vivianne Hawthorne Carter, a.k.a., Old Lady Hawthorne, has been a recluse for decades. She’s the daughter of Henry and Rhiannon. Vivianne had married John Carter who ran off with Mary Collins, Vivianne’s best friend. Gwendolyn Hawthorne is Vivianne’s niece whose fisherman husband, Medwyn, died. Her children — Gwyneth, Gerallt, and Gareth — and her accepted Vivianne’s invitation. Nightshade and Belladonna are the family cats. Nightwing is Gerallt’s crow. Shadow is Gareth’s squirrel.
Ezekiel Hawthorne founded the town of Hawthorne in 1826. Harold was his son who worked hard to increase the family fortune and founded the Northern Indiana Railroad Company. Henry Hubertus Hawthorne was Harold’s son who married Rhiannon Llewellyn from Deer Isle. Their children were Morgan and Vivianne.
Hawthorne High School
Fellow students include the much picked-upon Sarah Duffy who runs the A/V; Harper, and Paul Stephens who had also lost his mother to a car accident. Clayton Cartwright, Dylan Jones, and Colin O’Connell are bullies. Brad O’Connell is one of Colin’s cousins, and his nastiness seems to run int he family.
Marcus Thompson is the American History teacher interested in the why, Tanner is the principal, Mrs. Fletcher is at the principal’s front desk, Mrs. McKinney teaches English, and Mr. Armstrong is the gym teacher.
Modron is the great mother goddess the Hawthornes worship. The High Coven is the ruling body of all druids. George Smith is a scumbag of a handyman. Peter Henderson of Peter’s Pawn Shop isn’t too picky.
The Cover and Title
The cover is DARK with a cloudy yet bright deep blue sky and a full moon. The background is a dilapidated Victorian mansion with turrets on either end and a light burning in an upper window. A bare tree is to the house’s left. A broken down fence separates the house from a young boy, carrying a backpack, trudging past the house on a broken sidewalk. The author’s name is at the top in white. The title is in a fun gothic font in shades of yellow and orange.
The title is what it’s all about, The Secrets of Hawthorne House.
9) Light, spooky and yet a story that is soulful ★★★★☆
The Secret of Hawthorne House turned out to be just the book I needed. I have been reading a lot of Urban Fantasy and Dark existential books so I needed something light, spooky and yet a story that is soulful for a change. TSoHH did good on that account.
The book did creep me out at times because who mentions a scary murder story to a stranger on a school bus? But then again, I let many instances skip because middle school kids and their curiosities are something I am familiar with.
I really liked Matt’s character because he is like any other average kid that does not have any biases and is not easily influenced by rumors. I appreciate these kinds of characters because they really teach good values. But that won’t change the fact that his life was really hellish. Losing his mother, being bullied and then on the constant verge of confusion regarding the secret of the Hawthorne house? Poor kid. Moving to a place to forget the memories, father’s dwindling finances, being the new kid and the only friend being a strange boy whose friendship gets you bullied more? Poor kid.
“That’s what happens to people who side with a Hawthorne,” Colin hissed in Matt’s ear.
The worse I felt for Matt, the more I enjoyed the story though. Because the writing is just that good and meant to keep a reader engaged. That is something I love about most middle-grade books. Kids don’t usually have a good attention span so unless the writing is alluring, the attention wavers off. That didn’t happen with this book. I read half the book in one go, flipping pages, enjoying the contradictory behaviors of Matt and his twin Tina, seeing Matt develop a sort of friendship with the mystery kid next door Gerralt. The plot of the book is also exciting if not unique. But I enjoyed the added mysticism of Wiccan beliefs and magic.
One thing I thought was that at the beginning of the book, the chapters seemed to be rushing in giving information, regarding the characters, the place and it was more telling the story than narrating it. After a couple of chapters, though, the narration smoothened out. As we got to know more about the Hawthorne House, its history and Matt & Gerralt developed a bond of friendship, the flow of the book settled down.
Without spoiling the actual mystery, I would just say that the book is good enough to be read until the end. It is equal parts spooky and equally heart-warming; quite an easy read.
8) Book Review ★★★★☆
The Secrets of Hawthorne House by Donald Firesmith is a charming ‘found family’ story that deftly illustrates how people of different cultures/spiritual backgrounds can get along just fine. For decades, Vivianne Hawthorne has kept to herself and not interacted with the residents of the town her grandfather gave name to. That changes when the Mitchell family moves next door. Matt, looking for odd jobs to earn money, approaches Mrs. Hawthorne about working in her overgrown yard. The elderly lady reluctantly agrees, thinking he’s just there to trick her like several bully kids like to do. Matt proves his worth though, and every weekend works to tame the yard. Then Vivianne’s great-niece and her kids move in, and Matt finds a best friend in Gerralt, a boy his age. But there’s more to Gerralt and the Hawthornes than ever Matt might guess.
Over the course of the story, the boys confront bullies (in hysterical ways!), learn to trust that difference isn’t bad, and the strange and unusual need not be feared, and even find treasure! This story engaged me right from the start. At first, I wasn’t so certain ‘druid’ was the correct term for the Hawthornes, but that gets resolved later in the story. I enjoyed learning about their ancestors’ past. I’m doubly grateful that Matt, and later his family, learned to at least accept the Hawthornes’ faith, even if they cannot share it, and believe there must be a different explanation. I adored that the author wrote the Hawthornes as they spoke, accents and all. It immediately reminded me of how my Welsh friend speaks, and it’s later revealed that the Hawthornes’ ancestry is Welsh, and that they tend to live in isolated colonies which may serve to preserve parts of the accent. At any rate, I loved it! Also, most of their names reflect Welsh ancestry. Slow me took a bit to recall that Gerralt is nothing more exotic than Gerald.
Several characters have to step out of their comfort zones. Matt must learn to accept Gerralt’s faith, the younger Hawthornes have to have far greater interaction with technology than they’re used to. On Deer Isle, where a colony exists, electricity is not used. They are living experimental archaeology. Vivianne, I think, took the bravest step by going out to supper with everyone despite being terrified of ridicule and persecution by the townsfolk, many of whom believe she killed her husband and best friend over an affair. I just can’t imagine her doing such a thing. She seems so sweet. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next in the series!
***Many thanks to the author for providing an ecopy in exchange for a fair and honest review. Reviewed for Silver Dagger Blog Tours
7) Review for United Indie Book Blog (UIBB) ★★★★☆
I enjoyed reading The Secrets of Hawthorne House and learning all the mysteries that surround it. I was drawn in from the beginning and enjoyed Matt and his outsider status. I love that his circle of friends stuck by him with the bullies. There is humor, sorrow, adventure, mystery, love and realistic, relatable characters in this book. It’s a middle school YA read, but I think just about anyone would enjoy reading it!
6) Creepy old house tells a story about a town’s history and a family of mystery ★★★★☆
Matt is new in town, and everyone seems to be obsessed with the spooky house next door. Matt just isn’t seeing it. It’s old, creepy and run-down, but he doesn’t believe the lady who lives there is a witch. The secret of Hawthorne house is a hot topic around this town. It’s the stuff of legends and spooky stories. This is the story of friendship and mystery. Every house has a story, every town has a history, and every new kid needs to experience what the town has to offer.
I don’t read many middle school books, but this one had an interesting plot, and I enjoyed the change of scenery. I joined up to the book tour and received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
5) Very good book! ★★★★☆
By Mary Nickell on January 17, 2019 (Original Amazon US Review)
I really enjoyed this fun magical read! The characters and the story was engaging. There was a bit of romance. The fact that the main character was only 15 added to the story, I believe. I received an ARC and this is my honest opinion. Now going to purchase the book, I enjoyed it so much.
4) Engaging Story and storyline ★★★★☆
By PatK on January 16, 2019 (Original Amazon US Review)
First up, I don’t give 5★ reviews easily, so a 4★ one is high praise from me. I am waiting to read the second book, as although this one is not really a cliffhanger, there is a lot of story left to tell. The meeting of two families, one seemingly normal, and the other immersed in magic, is quite good. Both the kids and adults are open to the changes in their lives, which I find very refreshing.
3) A fun easy magical read ★★★★☆
By Retired Techie on November 30, 2018 (Original Amazon US Review)
For me, this was a fun, easy read about middle school kids doing mostly middle school stuff. And magic. Magic the users of which are to never tell anyone else! But what do you do when you say and do a little too much in front of your best and only friend because of some bullies? For Gerallt, someone who’s never had electricity; therefore no TV, computers, cellphones; and learns about their wonders from his only friend, that becomes his dilemma. So he breaks his ‘code of silence’ so as not to lose his friend. What happens after he reveals his secret not only puts him in jeopardy of losing his gifts, but his whole family could as well. Of course, the story has a happy ending.
This story seems to be targeted toward middle schoolers, but it’s a fun read for any age, which keeps moving throughout. Another nicety for me is the story has a conclusion, not a cliffhanger (I am Not a fan of cliffhangers), though it ends with the ability to continue their adventures.
I gave it 4 stars because of a few grammar errors, mainly missing words that one can figure out after re-reading those sentences. But other than that, I found it a fun read. I almost titled it: What if you, an ‘outsidah’, learned you can perform magic?
2) Young adult read ★★★★☆
Not sure if kids book or young adult perhaps. Just enough romance to not be icky for young’uns. I was grabbed early, not wanting to put it down, eager to see what adventure next came for the boys. Now I’m eager for the next book!
1) Very entertaining read! ★★★★☆
By Baz on October 1, 2018 (Original Amazon UK Review)
What an interesting read. Follow Matt through his many trials and tribulations never quite knowing where the next twist and turn will lead especially when things are not always as they appear. A well written thoroughly enjoyable read.
I received this book as an ARC from the Author this is my honest voluntary review.
3 Star Reviews
2) Katie’s Review ★★★☆☆
By Katie Garnett on June 10, 2019 (Original Goodreads Review)
I’ve recently seen The House with a Clock in its Walls (haven’t read the book tho’) and this reminded me a lot of that. This is a perfect book for older children and younger teenagers; they’ll love it! The story includes lots of elements that schoolchildren will find familiar: bullying, unfair teachers, perhaps the loss of a parent, grounding, one-parent families, etc. But this time there’s a dash of magic to liven things up. One of the criticisms I would make is that there wasn’t enough magic or a wider variety of spells. I also feel that the treasure hunt should have taken up a larger portion of the story, maybe as background vein running through the whole thing, but that might be just me. All in all a good story.
1) A Decent Read for YA Audiences ★★★☆☆
It was a drunk driver that crashed into his mother and killed her. It was something that 15-year-old Matt has never been able to get over. Now, he, along with his father and twin sister, has moved to Hawthorne, IN, as far away from the ocean as possible.
New house, new town, new people.
The first day of school, Matt meets Sarah, who tells him about Lady Hawthorne next door. She was supposedly a witch who murdered her husband. So then why was she running free if she was a killer?
Eventually, Matt starts doing household chores for Lady Hawthorne and soon befriends one of her relatives. Suddenly, life in a strange town gets even stranger.
Story goes into a brief history of the Hawthorne Haunted House and how it came to be. It was interesting but lags considerably with endless monologue that seems irrelevant. The Hawthornes certainly have incomprehensible dialogue with their weird accent (it was Southern or Eastern or something,) making it harder to follow and understand them.
Ultimately, the question was: What were the secrets of Hawthorne House? Although the answer wasn’t too clear, the bond and friendship between Matt and Gerallt were admirable.
This strange tale of Wiccan folklore was punctuated by childhood mayhem, dark secrets, and a touch of magic. Of course, judging by the cover, I expected more spookiness, like a haunting impression really, but it just sort of remained stagnant at a mild and mediocre level. It’s a decent read for YA audiences, but I would’ve liked it better had it been shortened and less complicated.
2 Star Reviews
1) Bullies and Magic ★★☆☆☆
By Sarah Brown on April 28, 2019 (Original Goodreads Review)
Whilst this book started out so well for me, it began to fall flat as the plot progressed. Completing this young adult, paranormal story, I felt underwhelmed and relieved that I had reached the end. Disgruntled that this was merely the start of the series, I do wonder how much further the writer could take this story.
First off, one of my massive frustrations with this book is the use of accents that the Hawthorne family speak in. I guess it is supposed to imitate the Welsh accent but for me, this failed miserably. The differently-spelled words became an inconvenience that initially hindered my understanding of the dialogue. Once I had adapted to reading these unusual, sometimes shortened words, I was simply irritated by the volume of it! The Hawthorne characters naturally speak a lot in this story as they live in a town of the same name and hey, even the book features their name, but, it just didn’t work. I’m all for one for recreating accents but I think it works best if it doesn’t dominate the novel or the author merely describes the sound of it and then writes in standard English for the rest of the novel.
Secondly, I found this book a disappointment because of Matt’s naivety. It is obvious to the reader that there is something paranormal happening when the school bullies are miraculously defeated, but Matt turns the other way and weakly denies what happens. Maybe the writer is trying to duplicate Matt’s father’s atheist, scientific views but I think this made Matt appear stupid and lacking sense. Indeed, when Gerallt and Matt become very close friends and Gerallt reveals some of the Hawthorne secrets, even then, Matt still displays qualities that I did not like – pushy, dense and lacking awareness of others.
Matt and Gerallt find themselves being bullied at school. The way in which the bullies are “defeated” made uncomfortable reading for me. Gerallt uses his amulet and his Druid powers to literally bully and threaten the bullies in return. This happens as well to when Tina, Matt’s sister, has an unfortunate end to a date. None of the Hawthorne characters seem bothered by their bullish nature and how they inflict pain on others to seek revenge over behavior they dislike. I have always had a strong opinion about books taking the moral high-ground and for me, the writer is simply showing these characters behaving like bullies themselves and sinking to their level; not rising above it and taking the honorable path. This was particularly irksome for me as this is a book aimed at young adults. I fear what message is being conveyed here when the characters feel it is acceptable to threaten others in return when “revenging” poor behavior. What message are we sending out to our young people?
Whilst some may consider this point as taking the novel too seriously, I personally found that this significantly lessened my enjoyment of the story. The novel was pacey enough and relatively interesting, but the morals within it made uncomfortable reading for myself. I grew to dislike the characters and whilst there is a happy ending for all, I was relieved to reach its conclusion. I do tend to enjoy young adult, paranormal fiction but this one failed to spark my imagination, leaving me feeling frustrated and looking ahead to my next read.
1 Star Reviews