Review: Secret Letters

Secret Letters by Leah Scheier

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin’s ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead. Her dreams dashed, Dora is left to rely on her wits—and the assistance of an attractive yet enigmatic young detective—to save her cousin’s reputation and help rescue a kidnapped heiress along the way.

Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this gripping novel heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in young adult literature.

(Description from Goodreads)

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Sherlock Holmes-esque mixed with a Victorian (somewhat modern) atmosphere? Count me in! I was searching around on goodreads.com for YA novels that were relatively new to the published world when I stumbled across this book (along with a few others.) After reading the description, I immediately downloaded it to my NOOK (my bank account does not thank me for having a NOOK in my possession.)

There were moments throughout this book that were rather slow and then there were moments that were incredibly fast paced. The beginning was fast, the middle was perfect, and the end was slow; there’s nothing bad with this, as I’m not entirely sure the plot could have gone any other way, but sometimes I wonder if it would help to either add to a part or take away from it. I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

The one major downfall to this book was that there were moments that I completely forgot what had just previously happened. It wasn’t that I wasn’t paying attention, but if I had to stop reading for a moment, I would have already forgotten what I had read when I went back to it. Now, I didn’t lose track of the most important details, but there were moments when I was like “wait…what is she referring to again?” or “when did he come back into the picture?” things of that nature.

Another aspect of the book that bothered me a bit was that the situation that was cause for concern in the beginning of the book, were only somewhat addressed at the end. I don’t want to give away too much, but in order for Dora (the main character) to become the great detective like Sherlock Holmes, she had to travel with a cousin to help recover some stolen love letters from years before (the cousin was being blackmailed); this aspect was brought up at the end, but it wasn’t discussed, it was merely mentioned. There were so many details about this situation in the beginning, but by the end, the details had shifted to another situation and this one was placed on the back burner.

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the ending of the book. I would say that’s my one neutral area of the book. There were points were it felt complete, but then it would turn around and make me wonder if things were going to be resolved. There was one part at the very end that contradicted itself (I won’t say what it was, but it left me feeling uneasy.) Still, there were moments that I liked and a few that I was like “oh come on, give me more!” Oh well.

I also really liked the Sherlock Holmes-esque analysis of situations. I’m mostly referring to the type witnessed in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies (you know, the moments when he pulls out every detail either before it happens or just by looking at a person.) There were many moments when Dora and Peter (the young boy who assisted Dora in her endeavors and had motives of his own) were able to carry out this type of analysis without any true digging – they just had an eye for detail.

Throughout the entire book, the setting really stood out to me; I kept picture a Jane Eyre type of setting (I suppose that is fitting since it is Victorian.) I really enjoyed that aspect of the book; settings that are easy to imagine like that appeal to me greatly.

While this book wasn’t spectacular, it was still a great read that had a lot of wonderful things about it. I will say though that I wish there had been more of a romance between Dora and Peter, but I suppose being set in the Victorian era there couldn’t be too much romance. Oh, woe is me!

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