The Secret of Splint Hall – Katie Cotton

Mr Godfrey’s pale blue eyes flicked to hers instantly. ‘Don’t say ‘um,’ he said. ‘It shows dithering, which shows a lack of intelligence. One must always say what one means and mean what one says.’ He looked back down at his newspaper as Isabel’s cheeks flared hot like a match. Mum squeezed her hand comfortingly. ‘This is Isabel,’ she said. ‘And my eldest is Flora.’

1945. The war has ended but for sisters Flora and Isobel, the struggles continue. Their house has been destroyed in a bombing raid and along with their mum, they’ve gone to live with their aunt and her terrible husband Mr Godfrey in their ancestral home, Splint Hall. When they arrive, they realise what a mysterious place it is. As the girls begin to unearth an ancient myth and family secret, the adventure of a lifetime begins…

This beautiful cover was revealed last Friday along with a Q&A with Katie too. You can view it here.

What a revelation The Secret at Splint Hall was! Going into it, I viewed it as a post-WW2 period drama involving a gorgeous country house and following two girls moving into said house as they have to deal with their obnoxious uncle and find their place in a village where they are unwanted whilst seeing what life holds now war is over. Oh, how Katie lulled me! To say more would ruin the actual secret of Splint Hall but safe to say, you are in for a roaringly-wild adventure. It’s a really clever plot device to introduce these characters and begin exploring a new world before flipping what you expect on its head. It reminded me of Ross Montgomery’s exquisite The Midnight Guardians last year!

As much as I detested him, Mr Godfrey (the girls’ uncle) was a fantastic villain. Acid-tongued and stuck in the past when women were unable to prosper, his one-liners were at times cutting but I loved seeing how the strong female characters rose up against him. Godfrey provided such darkness to their lives and I really found that theme of darkness so powerful throughout – as well as Isabel’s literal fear of the dark (to be expected given what she’s out through here!), the fact that the darkness from the war is still hanging so strongly amongst the characters made the story so powerful. Everyone is craving the light (again, some characters quite literally during part 2 of the story!).

An absolute page-turner filled with surprises, strong female protagonists and a fiery adventure, The Secret of Splint Hall is a leap into the darkness where anything is possible! I’m excited to see if Katie will take this story further in the future as I’m sure there’s scope for more…

Suggested reading age: 10+

The Secret of Splint Hall is written by Katie Cotton and will be released by Andersen Press on 3rd March 2022. Go and preorder your copy here.

Published by Tom G

Avid reader. Dad of 2. Husband. Assistant Headteacher.

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