Secrets 1: The Secrets of Hawthorne House


Front cover of The Secrets of Hawthorn HouseFifteen-year-old Matt Mitchell was having the worst summer imaginable. His misery started when his mother died in a senseless car accident. Matt’s grieving father, unable to remain in the family’s seaside cottage, moved Matt and his twin sister as far as possible from the ocean they loved.But their relocation to the small town of Hawthorne, Indiana only made Matt’s life more difficult. Three bullies at his new high school dedicated themselves to making him miserable. To top it off, Matt heard that the recluse living in the dilapidated Victorian mansion next door was none other than Old Lady Hawthorne, the town’s infamous witch and murderer of wayward husbands.

But when Old Lady Hawthorne’s niece and her three children moved in next door, something extraordinary happened. Matt met Gerallt, the strange boy destined to become his best friend. And when Gerallt divulged the Hawthornes’ family secret, it changed Matt’s life forever.

The Secrets of Hawthorne House is the story of an unlikely friendship, the clash of two radically different cultures, hidden magic, and a search for the lost Hawthorne treasure.


  • Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age
  • Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Contemporary
  • Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Wizards & Witches
  • Fiction > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age
  • Fiction > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Contemporary
  • Fiction > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban
  • Fiction > Mystery & Detective > Amateur Sleuth

#ComingOfAge #Fantasy #Paranormal #Witch #Wizard

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2020 Top Shelf Magazine's Book Contest

2020 TopShelf Magazine Book Award 1st Place Winner in three categories:

  • Fiction / Paranormal
  • Young Adult / Fantasy
  • Young Adult / Paranormal
2020 Top Shelf Magazine's Book Contest

2020 TopShelf Magazine Book Award Finalist in two categories:

  • Fiction / Supernatural
  • Young Adult / Coming of Age
2020 International Book Awards Winner

2020 International Book Awards Winner in the Fiction: Fantasy Category

2020 Author Shout Reader Ready Top Pick Award

2020 Author Shout Reader Ready Top Pick Award

Pinnacle Book Award, Winter 2020

Winter 2020 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Best Books in Young Adult Fantasy Category (one of 2 winners)

2019 Readers’ Favorite Book Award Silver Medal

2019 Readers’ Favorite Book Award Silver Medal in the Young Adult Fantasy Urban Category

American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award - Finalist in Fantasy

American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award – Finalist in Fantasy

Independent Author Network 2020 Book of the Year - Finalist in Paranormal/Supernatural Fiction

Independent Author Network 2020 Book of the Year – Finalist in Paranormal/Supernatural Fiction

2021 Author Elite Awards - Top 10 Finalist in Science Fiction and Fantasy

2021 Author Elite Awards – Top 10 Finalist in Science Fiction and Fantasy's Top 50 Indie Books of 2019 - Third Place’s Top 50 Indie Books of 2019 – Third Place

Purple Dragonfly Book Award, 2020

2020 Purple Dragonfly Book Award in Science Fiction/Fantasy Category (Honorable Mention)

Book Cover of the Month - July 2019

Pam Rice Design – Book Cover of the Month, July 2019

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Praise for The Secrets of Hawthorne House

Readers’ Favorite

“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.” Original review

Kirkus Reviews

“The author’s prose is lucid and descriptive … A satisfying tale that aptly balances teen drama with a bit of magic.” — Kirkus Reviews       Read the complete Kirkus review here.

US Review of Books

“Firesmith spins a wonderful story of friendship and taps into the struggle teenagers feel to fit in at school, especially when their circumstances change so dramatically after the death of a parent. Firesmith explores the power of looking past the façade of a person or even a family to see what is on the inside. People are not always what they seem to be and are often misunderstood, especially if they appear different or unusual, like the Hawthorne family. If its heart is friendship, then the soul of the book is magic. Firesmith evokes the wonder of Celtic gods and goddesses in the modern world. With a light touch, magic is unleashed to create havoc for school bullies, clueless teachers, and petty thieves. RECOMMENDED by US Review.”        Original review here.

TopShelf Magazine

“Highly Recommended! The Secrets of Hawthorne House is a hair-raising tale perfect for young readers and lighthearted adults looking for an enjoyable and easy read… There is a lyrical, almost playful quality to the author’s voice… Most of the time, I would say this is a problem; however, in this case, it not only works; it’s a real joy to read… Fantastic book.” — Keith Katsikas TopShelf Reviews Original five-star review here.

Midwest Book Review (D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer)

“The complexity and depth of The Secrets of Hawthorne House, as well as its incorporation of magical elements with realistic struggles and confrontations, create a captivating story that is hard to put down, original, and satisfyingly unique. Its lessons about different cultures and backgrounds, the process of grief and recovery, and the acceptance of ideas and realities a bit different from the norm… creates a powerful interplay of mystery, intrigue, and healing that will keep all ages thoroughly engrossed.”         Original MBR review here.   Original reviewer’s review here.

Abigail Drake

“A perfectly magical read for young teens and tweens… Beautifully written and ideal for a cozy read by the fire, this book is a delightfully poignant and fun adventure.”
Abigail Drake The Enchanted Garden Cafe The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop Saying Goodbye

J. Aislynn d’Merricksson

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. 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. 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; I loved it! I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next in the series!”
Aislynn D'Merricksson Mother Of Wolves Obsidian Alcatraz Dragon Lore

Kelly Zimmer

The Secrets of Hawthorne House by Donald Firesmith is a YA fantasy novel, a genre I’ve read very little. I was astonished at how well it held my attention. While the story is a fantastic escape, it also addresses topics such as science vs. religion, the effect of technology on interpersonal communication, and bullying. The author also sneaks in details about life before the industrial revolution, folklore, and Celtic history. Still, Hawthorne House is an easy read and a page-turner. Enjoy and keep an eye out for the sequels.
Kelly Zimmer The Magic in Me Dying to Return The Reconciliation

Thomas Trimble

The Secrets of Hawthorne House takes you to a world you may or may not believe. There are many secrets on many levels hidden in this old Victorian Mansion. Secrets in the people and their lives and in the house itself. All interacting with a family they happen to have living next door. Along with good descriptions, the author used an interesting technique to make you feel the Northeastern accent of part of the cast. I totally enjoyed the book and recommend it. The author did an excellent job.”
Thomas Trimble Terror By Machine Cyber Watchdog Total Access

Jasmine Bryner

“This was a really fun book. It’s got a lot of heart. The characters are all really well-written. 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!”
Jasmine Bryner Love’s Courage

Anna del C. Dye

“I love the story and the characters… 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.”
Anna del C. Dye The Elf And The Princess Ermine's Nightmare Once Upon Two Kingdoms

Gary Seigel

“I really enjoyed this tale… This magical narrative so reminded me of the books I enjoyed speeding through in Junior High and High School. Adventure. Druids. Supernatural spells. Secrets buried in the house. Witches. Goddesses. Even a rich history of the family going back thousands of years. And as a coming of age tale, I love the idea Matt and his friend Gerallt have the ability to cast spells on bullies and get them into all sorts of trouble. I think this is perfect fun for a 15 or 16 year old, and I highly recommend it to young readers.”
Gary Seigel The Mouth Trap Haskell Himself

Patricia Miller

“This book was wonderful! Loved everything about it. Well written, fun to read, just the right amount of spookiness and kept me turning page after page! I would highly recommend if you like books with a little mystery and spookiness!”
Patricia Miller Joshua 1: Life After Theos Joshua 2: Breaking Free Joshua 3: Between Two Worlds

Amy Shannon – Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Amy's Bookshelf 5-Star Review“Firesmith pens a magical story in The Secrets of Hawthorne House. I really enjoyed it. The story has multiple levels and interesting plot twists. A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. This author is not just a writer but a great storyteller. This read is so engrossing. The Secrets of Hawthorne House is a definite recommendation by The After Show with McKensie Stewart and Amy Shannon, as well as Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.” Original review

Amy Shannon Contrary Measures Smashed Unwritten Life

United Indie Book Blog

“I enjoyed reading The Secrets of Hawthorne House… I was drawn in from the beginning… 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!”

Sherry’s Book Confessions

The Secrets of Hawthorn House was wildly entertaining. It’s the story of kindness, friendship, and starting over, all wrapped up in two mischievous teenage boys. I can’t wait to read the next book.”

The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

“A fun, exciting mystery for younger teens.”

The BookLife Prize Critic’s Report

“There is a lovely lyrical quality to Firesmith’s prose, the authorial voice is strong, and the author has a penchant for rich description.”

Billy Burgess, Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

“A well-written children’s tale with likeable characters and detailed descriptions. It’s definitely worth reading!”
Billy Burgess Ghostly Tales of Terror


Review Results

Read all 154 reviews. (4.4 Stars)

Quotes from the Book


Author’s Commentary

This teen magical mystery has been 15 years in the making. I started it about the time I moved to Pittsburgh, but I got stuck halfway through the last chapter. I knew what I wanted to say, but got serious writer’s block when it came to how to say it. But, it was too good of a story to just let languish in a folder on my computer desktop, so I recently took out the old manuscript, dusted it off, and finished it.

Cover Artist

Because the Hawthorne House is the scene for many of the events in the book and needed to look properly spooky, I developed architectural floor plans to ensure consistency of the artwork to the book. Then I searched Deviant Art to find an artist who could do a “haunted house” in the style I wanted. I was lucky to find French artist Rudy Parfaite, who was lead environment artist at the game company Pretty Simple. The artwork he created exactly matched the my architectural plans and mental image. The cover for The Secrets of Hawthorne House. Rudy’s cover won the June, 2019 Book Cover of the Month Award sponsored by PRDesign.

Rudy ParfaiteCover Art

Publishing Information

Publisher: Magical Wand Press
Edition: First edition
Publication Date: 1 October 2018
Pages: 413
Words: 98,700
Size: 5×8
Language: English


Hell Holes 1: What Lurks Below is available in the following formats:

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eBook (.epub) Barnes & Noble Smashwords
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Audiobook Not Available

Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Data Block

Name: Firesmith, Donald.
Title: The Secrets of Hawthorne House / by Donald Firesmith.
Description: Second edition. | Pittsburgh : Magical Wand Press, 2019.
Summary: The life of a freshman at a new high school changes forever when a family of witches moves in next door. | Audience: Juvenile. | Language: English
Identifiers: 978-1726283151 (Amazon paperback) | ASIN B07GV2F814 EAN 2940161482247 (Amazon ebook) | 978-1987060690 (B&N paperback) | 978-0463294680 (B&N ebook) | 978-1087866178 (IngramSpark paperback)| 978-1087866185 (IngramSpark ebook) | 978-0463294680 (Smashwords ebook)
Subjects: BISAC: Fiction / Fantasy /Contemporary. | Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal. | Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Amateur Sleuth. | LCSH: American–Fantasy–Fiction. | American–Paranormal–Fiction. | American–Science Fiction–Fiction. | GSAFD: Adventure fiction. | Fantasy fiction. | Science fiction.

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2 Responses to Secrets 1: The Secrets of Hawthorne House

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