Book review: The Secrets of Solace, by Jaleigh Johnson

Johnson, Jaleigh. The Secrets of Solace. Delacorte Press, 2016. $16.99. ISBN 9780385376488. 371 pages. Grades 5-8. P7 Q8

Johnson Secrets of SolaceThe Secrets of Solace is the second novel by Jaleigh Johnson written for young readers. It takes place in the fantasy world of Solace at a time when two of its three nations are warring over resources. The third nation, a neutral collection of three mountain strongholds, is populated by scientists who dedicate their lives to studying the mysterious artifacts that come to Solace in the meteor storms. These scientists are called archivists and Lina Winterbock, the story’s protagonist, is an archivist’s apprentice—when she’s not skipping classes to eavesdrop in ventilation ducts or avoiding everyone in her hidden workshop. As a result of her curiosity, Lina discovers that the archivists are sheltering a much unexpected refugee disguised among those flooding into the strongholds from the war-torn nations. With this fortuitous meeting, Lina forms a friendship that may allow her to finally uncover the most valuable artifact of her lifetime—if she can trust her new friend. The novel’s familiar themes promote the underdog, loyalty, and good over evil. However, Johnson includes dark plot lines, dynamic characters, and compelling science fiction elements to add intrigue to a potentially predictable adolescent adventure. The Secrets of Solace is a successful introduction of science fiction for young readers. It is appropriately readable for elementary readers with just a few strange names and creatures thrown in. The story’s ending and unique extraneous plot developments hint at a sequel if not a series of books about Solace.

April 2016 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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