Sky Pony Press
195 Pages Ages: 8 to 12
Inside Jacket: Achim is eleven years old when he moves from the orphanage to the house by the sea with Paul and Ines. Everything is strange and new. But one day Achim discovers an unusual door that leads to a secret room belonging to another world. And on a bed in the room sits a boy who is waiting to take Achim into the realm of the powerful Nameless One.
Achim learns that the boy, Arnim is the long-dead son of Achim’s new parents. When he died at the age of four, Arnim was suppose to have become a bird and traveled to the land of the dead, which can be seen through the window of the secret room. But the Nameless One has locked Arnim inside the room. Achim, however, finds that he can turn into a bird, slip through the window, and enter this strange world. Thus begins a journey in which Achim must fight the Nameless One and free Arnim’s spirit, so he can leave his parent’s and the family can finally stop grieving. But will Achim be able to fight the Nameless One while also keeping his own secrets from his new family?
Achim has lived in an orphanage for as long as he can remember which is since his parents died. Paul and Ines lost their son seven years earlier. Now they are at the orphanage to meet Achim. .Achim moves in with the couple and on his first overnight Achim finds a room with a different door than all the rest. This curved door has a shiny silver doorknob, not a red plastic one like all the other doors in the house. He pushes it down and enters. Achim steps into a circular room, with bare furnishings, five windows, paintings on the wall, and blue curtains—all of which have importance.
The room is chilly—cold as ice—and so is the young boy Achim meets in this secret room. The boy is Arnim, Paul and Ines long-dead son, locked in a room of longing. Arnim longs for freedom and the ability to join the other birds. He longs for his parents to let go and stop grieving. But Arnim cannot simply walk out of the room; he needs Achim to help him. Achim agrees and soon he is on the journey of his life—and possibly his death.
The Secret Room is the translation of The Adoption Room, a German middle grade novel. This story hooked me from the blurb. It is the story of what becomes of us after we die and the struggle of one young boy trying to crossover to that new life. Becoming birds and flying to the “Land-of-the-Dead” is actually a beautiful possibility. The author has presented a world that places the dead into a wondrous world of tremendous freedom.
Then she adds The Nameless One, a repulsively powerful eagle/lion who is taking power from the longing of those dead he captures, and the sadness of those left behind. He uses this to build a never-ending palace made of white stones (longing), and black stones (sadness). Without these two things, he cannot continue to build. The beautiful post-life the author built is not perfect, just like life on this side of the divide. And just like life, Arnim needs help to overcome his imprisonment.
Achim is beautiful as a bird. He has white feathers with violet speckles. The way the author has Achim going to this other world is imaginative and logical. The way he returns is simple. When Paul or Ines needs Achim, he returns to the secret room. Figuring out how to set Arnim free and then accomplishing the task will set Achim free in a way he, nor you, the reader, will see coming. And it is as wonderful a surprise as it is heartbreaking.
Wow! This is one power story that advanced readers will thoroughly enjoy. For those parents that pre-read their children’s books, I can say with confidence that the most intense fight scene will not bring on nightmares or difficulty sleeping. For those parents who generally do not pre-read books their kids read—read this one and enjoy. For kids who need to write a book report and are looking for that one-of-a-kind book to impress their teacher, The Secret Room will impress.
While written for the middle grades, The Secret Room is a story kids of all ages will enjoy. Some, like me, may find themselves reading it twice.
Author: Antonia Michaelis website Translator: Mollie Hosmer-Dillard website Illustrator: Brigit Brandt website Publisher: Sky Pony Press website ..... Imprint of: Skyhorse Publishing website 195 Pages Ages: 8 to 12
Copyright ©2012 by Antonia Michaelis and Skyhorse Publishing Inc., used with permission
Copyright ©2012 by Brigit Brandt and Skyhorse Publishing, used with permission