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CAVE OF SECRETS by Morgan Llywelyn


by Morgan Llywelyn

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: June 14th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-84717-207-5
Publisher: Dufour

This middle-grade historical novel set in Ireland during the mid-17th century is low on character and a little muddled in story but offers lots of history.

Thirteen-year-old Tom Flynn’s father ignores him or cuffs him, devoting his attention to keeping his land and spoiling his daughters. Tom’s mother is sickly and withdrawn, and Tom escapes to the cliffs and caves of Roaringwater Bay by their home in West Cork. In those caves he discovers Donal, who speaks Irish and whose father, he says, is a king. Tom becomes intrigued by Donal’s family, and Donal’s small sister Maura attaches herself fiercely to “Tomflynn.” Tom’s father goes off to Dublin and beyond to secure his family’s place in the shifting political landscape, and Donal’s father supports his family by smuggling. Donal’s family, who makes what they need and works the sea, opens Tom’s eyes to a different life from the one his father is trying to secure. The secrets of the caves reveal not only what Donal’s family does, but how Tom’s mother is connected to them. The denouement involves a little more forgiveness and turnabout than one might reasonably expect. A lot of English and Irish history and culture is dropped in when the focus shifts away from Tom, slowing the storyline and frequently failing to compel; a coda explains the real historical characters around Tom and Donal.

For those fascinated by Irish history, but probably not many more. (Historical fiction. 9-14)