THE VALLEY OF SECRETS by Charmian Hussey


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 11 - 13
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Hussey stretches a short story’s worth of ineptly developed plot over tedious rambles about the Cornish countryside, un-compelling mysteries revealed with agonizing slowness, prolonged flashbacks in the form of passages from an old diary, and whiny rants against faceless rain-forest despoilers. Informed that he’s inherited a large country estate, Stephen, abandoned as a baby, arrives in Cornwall to find the gates unlocked, the house open—but not a soul to be found. With breaks to pore over an ancestor’s wordy account of an early 20th-century trip up the Amazon, Stephen roams the grounds, discovering dozens of native and exotic plants. At length, he comes upon the estate’s inhabitants: a very old Amazonian Indian named Murra-yari and a herd of “Bugwomps,” limbless, caterpillar-like creatures with the eyes and personalities of primates. Money problems threaten an end to the ensuing idyll—but Murra-yari suddenly produces a pre-Columbian gold figurine to sell off, then dies, making way for Beth, an attractive replacement companion. Crump contributes small, atmospheric chapter-head scenes, which don’t help to plug the holes in this leaky, agenda-driven tale. (lists of species, multimedia resources) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-87862-1
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2005