Seventeen year-old Emily has accepted the truth of her past trauma and made peace with her battered egos. She's won the first battle, but the fight for recovery still rages. Dad's home from prison and Mom's out of rehab. Determined to protect her younger siblings from her abuser and keep her family intact, Emily gathers the strength to speak her secret, only to discover that the people she trusted are powerless to intervene. Nancy insists the key to resolving Emily's crisis lies in the First Realm. Desperate for help, Emily uses self-hypnosis to cross the barrier between Realms in search of a Champion...the one person with enough power to end the destructive cycle of abuse and transform Emily from victim to survivor.
Plot: Emily’s struggle to protect her family from a father who molested her and has recently been released from jail is poignant and inspiring. Emily’s childhood fantasy world, reached via self-hypnosis, makes the reader question the borders between reality and fantasy.
Prose: Harris’s descriptions conjure vivid images through a combination of precision and metaphor. Emily’s voice is engaging and authentic.
Originality: The premise of hypnosis as a foundation for the fantastical First Realm is original, but better still is the skill with which Harris executes this concept. The thematic focus on healing is uncommon in novels that feature abuse.
Character Development: Although this book has a relatively large cast of characters, it won't take readers long to become familiar with them. Emily endears with her self-awareness and raw thought processes.
Date Submitted: May 01, 2018
Clarion Rating: 5 out of 5
Secret Keeper is as gorgeously written as Emily’s process to healing is rendered. This is a standout novel.
Jane Alvey Harris’s thoroughly immersive young adult fantasy Secret Keeper interweaves a teenage girl’s journey through post-traumatic stress with her destiny fighting to save the fae. An original premise and a dynamic main character set the novel apart.
This sequel starts in medias res, with ample description detailing where the last book left off and where Emily is now. She has just left the hospital due to what her family deems a suicide attempt, when really, overdosing on pills had been an accident; she had merely yearned for a temporary escape from the drama of her inner life.
Memories of incidents with her abusive father constantly arise in Emily’s mind, but because of her history of mental illness, she fears no one will take her accusations seriously. Somehow, she must protect her younger siblings from a similar fate.
If the PTSD weren’t enough, Emily also finds herself moving back and forth between her reality and the Realms, a series of fae lands where she becomes a warrior. She defends the Realms’ inhabitants from the evil queen and her husband Drake, who are duplicates of Emily’s parents. She enters these worlds via hypnosis, at first guided by her aunt and later on her own; she believes that the Realms are a coping mechanism—though the line between fantasy and reality soon becomes unclear.
Emily knows that the current chaotic state of the Realms is her own fault, and she fears she is also to blame for the unfurling drama with her family and two battling love interests. Her feelings of shame and helplessness provide depth, and her journey to empowerment imbues the novel with a sense of hope.
Emily’s life is full of rich relationships with family, friends, and love interests. Each friendship is realistically portrayed, and all add dimension to the story. These relationships, in addition to Emily’s emotional turmoil, are perhaps the novel’s greatest strength.
The vast Realms are vividly described. The landscape, the monsters, and the high-stakes action all come alive in these pages. In the Realms, Emily has wings, delicate yet strong, with tapered tips; the imagery in this magical world is beautiful, even during scenes of chaos and destruction.
There are many moving parts in the novel, but the clarity of the writing makes it easy to keep track of the subplots, relationships, and movement between the Realms. Secret Keeper is as gorgeously written as Emily’s process to healing is rendered. This is a standout novel that will leave audiences eagerly reaching for the next installment.
Young adult novelist Jane Alvey enthralls in her second installment of her myth trilogy “SECRET KEEPER.” By tapping into the shame of a teenage girl’s past trauma, Harris keeps readers mesmerized in this coming-of-age fantasy in which protagonist Emily Alvey, a survivor of sexual abuse, finds freedom and clarity in the depths of her wild imagination.
“Harris once more brings to bear a formidable imagination as her heroine seeks healing. While there are elves, goblins, and giant spiders, this isn’t a traditional quest narrative. Concepts such as sexual consent and self-forgiveness dominate the foreground.”
“Secret Keeper is inspired and imaginative. Harris is an alchemist, blending fantasy, tragedy, and a determined hero fueled by magic and hope. Like Riven, this sequel crackles with mind-bending electrical charge.”
“Secret Keeper” is the second book in the ‘My Myth Trilogy’ by Jane Alvey Harris. Readers first meet seventeen-year-old Emily in the author’s debut novel, “Riven,” in which the teen creates an intricate fantasy world to protect herself and help her cope with the very real trauma and chaos that is her life.
“Secret Keeper” continues the story as Emily and her family reunite, after she and her mother are both discharged from a stay at a treatment center. Included in the family reunion is Emily’s father, who, just home from prison, is ready to start over with the family. He may have the rest of the family fooled, but Emily knows he hasn’t really changed—he’s ready to pick up right where he left off, leaving Emily desperate to protect her younger siblings. When the lack of support, betrayal and disbelief threaten to overwhelm Emily after she reveals her truth to her family, she must once again cross into the different Realms and face her demons as she searches for a Champion to guide her through what might be her most challenging days yet.
Wow. There are so many layers to this story and I was completely blown away from the beginning. Taking Emily between three different Realms during her journey really put a different spin on things and I found it such a creative way of approaching some very difficult societal and internal teen-age/young adult issues. I was easily caught up in the fantasy world that contains everything any girl ever dreaming of being a princess could imagine—from fairies, dashing heroes and castles, to dungeons, tombs and a wicked Queen – oh, and of course, Drake – the evil villain who threatens the safety and existence of all the Realms and the people in them.
Emily’s character totally makes this story shine. She is so complex! Funny, sarcastic, feisty and impulsive in nature, she shows the world one side of herself, while her inner thoughts show a different side – the side that holds shame, doubt, fear, insecurity and helplessness. Emily is such a current-day teen, who handles herself in ways that genuinely connect with today’s young adult reader. Oh man, some of her inner voices just made me want to scream because I could totally relate. At other times I wanted to shake her and tell her to quit whining and get over herself! I did like how she reacted to circumstances, especially when she comes to some self-realizations that forced her to step up and take responsibility for herself – the whole time I was thinking, “Yeah, I feel your pain, Emily!”
What really connected with me is how the author addresses such contemporary issues – issues we hear about in the current world news every day, specifically abuse and consent. There are several pages that deal with the topic of consent and how to differentiate what it is and what it is not. Without preaching, she explains exactly what it means and how to stand up for your truth – the perfect way to get the point across to YAs, who think they know it all, but deep down really want help.
Jane Alvey Harris has such a fresh, youthful voice and writes with a modern flair – Millennials will easily relate to the language and popular culture. “Secret Keeper” is a five-star story all YAs should read – it’s fun and entertaining, while taking on some serious, relevant issues. I know “Secret Keeper” just came out, but I already look forward to what is sure to be a riveting conclusion to the series!
Secret Keeper by Jane Alvey Harris is the second book in the My Myth Trilogy, following the highly-rated first book, Riven. Secret Keeper continues on with Emily as she balances between a heartbreaking and hellish life in the world as we know it, and the First Realm of her brethren Fae, which has reshaped in its own tumult. In the here and now, Emily is crushed under the weight of a system that fails to protect her from a man - her father - whom no child should ever need protecting from, and a mother who is complicit under the guise of faith and dismissal. Forced to seek out her own healing and salvation, Emily is given a skeletal tool to begin an impossible-to-win but unthinkable-to-fail journey. "If you search, you’ll find the person with the wisdom to help you. A person who has so much authority, you have to believe what he or she says. A Champion."
Secret Keeper by Jane Alvey Harris is a wonderfully engrossing story that addresses the most horrid of social issues. Harris' writing is fresh, fluid, and often almost lyrical, with prose such as, "In a lazy line we encircle them, chins high, shoulders back, hips swaying… our center of gravity low. Minali runs an appraising finger across the back of Jacob’s shirt. Teagan winks at Gabe and licks her lips. Lionesses on the prowl, toying with their prey." The world building is phenomenal and on par with some of the best of fantasy writers. The lines blur sometimes and the transition from fantasy to reality often requires a reader to suspend disbelief, but in the context of Emily's story it isn't difficult. I'd recommend this book to the more mature YA readers out there who enjoy a layered and multidimensional fae world, who can also manage a backdrop that pains as much as it empowers.
Secret Keeper is the second book in My Myth Trilogy by Jane Alvey Harris, a splendid meld of coming of age, young adult fantasy, and family drama. Meet Emily, a seventeen-year-old who has suffered trauma at the hands of her father and finally thinks she can move past it. The very same day her mother is released from rehab, her abusive father announces he will be joining the family again. She describes her mental battle in the following powerful statement: “My secrets — buried and broiling in the pressure chamber of my psyche — have finally boiled up, and they're seething over.” She has to do the one thing she’s always feared — spill the secret. But will anyone believe her? What will happen to her younger siblings if her father is allowed to become part of their family again? She can’t let this happen!
Follow Emily as she embarks on a dangerous journey to the First Realm to connect with her extraordinary gifts. But what awaits her there is chaos and, while the clock is ticking, she has to find answers before her father finally arrives. Secret Keeper is a beautifully written story with compelling characters, a story that looks at abuse and what it takes to heal once we have been morally and psychologically broken. The plot is imaginative, the prose evocative and captivating, and the narrative voice irresistible. The story is told in an absorbing first person narrative that pulls the reader in right off the bat. Jane Alvey Harris has that gift of creating worlds that readers will enjoy navigating and it is interesting to experience the parallel worlds in this story. The tale is filled with symbolism, is psychologically and emotionally intense, and it features characters that stick with readers even after they are done with the story.
Secret Keeper: My Myth Trilogy by Jane Alvey Harris is the second novel in the series and is essentially about seventeen-year-old Emily and her life story. Since Secret Keeper is the second book in the trilogy, it would be ideal to have read the first one already. That said, this book still stands as a standalone story and can easily be grasped even if a reader is not familiar with the trilogy series. Emily’ story is one of sexual abuse by her father and the resulting trauma, and how she is able to cope with it, manage it, and deal with it. In this book, Emily’s father has returned to their family’s life and Emily is terrified about what this means for herself and for her family. As she copes with speaking up, she realizes she needs and wants help, and enters the Realm again. This is Emily’ story of struggles, challenges, hope, and healing.
Secret Keeper (My Myth Trilogy) (Volume 2) by Jane Alvey Harris is an engaging story and kept me turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen next. A very important subject of childhood sexual abuse and molestation has been brought to the fore by this book. Unfortunately, a lot of these cases happen within the walls of a home and it is often a friend or family member that is the perpetrator. I hope a book like this highlights the importance of teaching young children and teenagers to speak up and to foster a culture among adults to listen to what a child says and take it seriously. There are also many resources available for help, some of which are mentioned in the book. I thought Emily’s character was very relatable and I hope this book provides inspiration for all young adults.