Author: Elizabeth Chandler
Release date: This edition 2010 UK
Genre: Paranormal Mysteries
Target audience: 12+
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Summary from Amazon:
Legacy of Lies
When Megan arrives at her grandmother's house she immediately feels that there is something curiously familiar about the place. She's been there in her dreams, or rather her nightmares, but still cannot place what exactly it is that gives her the creeps. All Megan wants to do is get through the visit without any drama, but as the house starts to reveal its secrets and the past comes to light, Megan finds herself caught up in a twisted love triangle with potentially fatal consequences.
Lauren knows that by returning to the town where her mother "accidentally" drowned seven years ago, she'll be reliving one of her most haunting memories. When she arrives, she is propelled into a series of mysterious events that mimic the days leading up to her mother's death. Could it be that her mother's drowning wasn't an accident after all? And as the past unravels around her Lauren begins to wonder whether she might be next...
Dark Secrets is a reprint of two shorter books by Elizabeth Chandler: Legacy of Lies and Don't Tell. Both are set in the town of Wisteria which seems to attract incidents of the paranormal and events that cannot be easily explained. It is not a secret that I am a complete wimp when it comes to things that go bump in the night. This book was the absolute limit of my scare factor. Both stories made me feel like hiding under the duvet and screaming if there was a tiny twitch in the curtains. These stories had me truly and fearfully absorbed as their tales unravelled.
Legacy of Lies tells the story of Megan who is ordered to visit her grandmother for a two week visit. Arriving in October, Megan receives a less than welcoming response from her adopted cousin Matt and her militarian grandmother. The old grand house is strikingly familiar to Megan as if she has been there before. She had pictured entering the house many times in her dreams. There is something unnerving about the frosty reception she receives and the rumours that whisper through the town which tell of the murder of her grandmother's sister. Someone is hiding a sinsiter secret. It is enough to make me want to lock all the doors and turn on all the lights. This tale unfolded slowly. It wasn't rushed. It wound around me tighter and tighter until I just had to know the mystery behind the secrets. I loved the characterisation. So many people were hiding things and like Megan I didn't know who to trust. I loved Sophie who was so sweet and innocent. I also loved Alex. Matt was a conundrum that I wanted to solve. I didn't always like him but I was intrigued by him. I just had to read to the end.
After reading Legacy of Lies, I couldn't wait to start Don't Tell. In some ways I think Don't Tell is scarier than Legacy of Lies. This tale begins with the death of Lauren's mother Sondra while they are holidaying with her godmother in Wisteria. Sondra has been behaving increasingly erratically. One night Lauren is awoken by one of her godmother's children - Nora - who has lost her toy. A bell is soon ringing signalling that something has gone amiss when she went onto the dock to retrieve it. A body is in the water. Not Nora's, she is rocking back and forth on the dock. Lauren's godmother carries it out. It is Lauren's mother. The assumption is that Sondra drowned by accident. Seven years later, Lauren is finally convinced by her godmother to return to Wisteria. Lauren is keen to put the past behind her and move on but there are other forces working here. Someone is trying to scare Lauren but is it a teenage prank or something deadlier at play?
The plot in Don't Tell twists itself in knots until as the reader you don't know whether these paranormal events are the product of a character's actions or evidence of communication from the other side. It is really creepy and had me turning page after page. I also really like the beginning of this one where Nick is completely gorgeous to the point that it hurts your eyes to look at him. He is also really funny and I love his whole "date a girl once and then move on" attitude. It just added to his cute and mischievous air. There is a brilliant scene with him in a soaking wet hat that just melted my heart.
Overall, Dark Secrets is a fabulous book which is full of two sinister paranormal and kind of disturbing stories. Both wove their mysterious spell around me and in a slow creepy way to the point where I just couldn't let go until I knew what happened. I now cannot wait for Dark Secrets 2: No Time to Die and The Deep End of Fear which is out in May. I wouldn't recommend these to the faint-hearted but I'd recommend them to anyone else.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me the book to review.