Perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood, this genre-bending page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Madeleine Roux follows two girls who transport themselves into the world of their favorite book only to encounter the sinister alternate reality that awaits them.
No matter how different best friends Adelle and Connie are, one thing they’ve always had in common is their love of a little-known gothic romance novel called Moira. So when the girls are tempted by a mysterious stranger to enter the world of the book, they hardly suspect it will work. But suddenly they are in the world of Moira, living among characters they’ve obsessed about for years.
Except…all is not how they remembered it. The world has been turned upside down: The lavish balls and star-crossed love affairs are now interlaced with unspeakable horrors. The girls realize that something dark is lurking behind their foray into fiction—and they will have to rewrite their own arcs if they hope to escape this nightmare with their lives.
Note: I was sent an e-arc of this book in exchange for a review. All my opinions are honest and unbiased.
Reviewing The Book of Living Secrets: An Eerie Page-turner
The Book of Living Secrets has an absolutely fascinating premise. Who wouldn’t want to go into the world of their favourite book with their best friend? But of course, it’s much different and darker than anyone could have expected. I’m actually a bit miffed that the blurb didn’t focus enough on how dark, eerie and horroresque this was going to be, complete with monsters and all. The misbranding might lead to some negative reviews and failed expectations but for my part, I really enjoyed this book.
We follow two best-friends: Adelle and Connie who are such distinct characters and yet you’re immediately rooting for them. They’re weird and quirky without that being their only personality. Connie is athletic, determined, a perfectionist who is goal-oriented and harbours a secret about her sexuality. Then we have Adelle who’s sincerely into occult stuff, dark magic and gothic things. She absolutely lives and breathes Moira the book the two best friends adore.
I love how both of them get dropped into different times and circumstances of the book which makes it all the more interesting to stumble around and grow. Connie lands up with the vagabond villains while Adelle is partying with the rich main characters. It’s beautiful how the author paints a contrast in the society of Moira and the social class differences that form the so-called villains and heroes of the book. I found it to be a fantastic way to explore the worldbuilding of Moira quickly and effectively. It was also really fun to read excerpts from the actual book Moira and then look at the changing world as our two protagonists stepped into it.
Another thing I absolutely adored is how different Adele and Connie found the characters to be. It was as if they had lives of their own. There is something to be said of how much you can read into characters when you’re reading a book. As readers, we get attached to their strengths and the beautiful parts of their souls. Sometimes we ignore their darker sides or follies and vice-versa with villains and side characters. We put these characters on a pedestal and at some point, these characters are not what the author wrote them to be but become characters who carry all our desires and wishes. We mould them to be who we want at times and I love how we see a reflection of that in The Book of Living Secrets. I wouldn’t spoil anything but let’s just say a lot of the characters are not what Adelle and Connie expected to be. A lot of side characters take the main stage and shine and many other characters who the girls barely knew existed come into play.
In terms of worldbuilding, I quite enjoyed the world of Moira. There was a certain aspect and backstory about the Wound and the darker side of this book that came in about halfway through the story or even later. While it was quite interesting and added another layer to the book, I wish there had been some foreshadowing for it because it seemed quite sudden. I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing either, it’s quite slow for a good chunk of the book and whenever it does pick up it usually goes back to a sludgy pace which made the process of reading it even more frustrating.
The romances were so adorable though! And we have a lovely sapphic romance as well 🙂 They’re very predictable but I still won’t spoil them for you. Both Connie and Adele’s romances were set up nicely and given as much time to develop as the author could afford to in such a short time frame.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. The author prefaces it by warning us this is slightly messy but something she put her heart and soul into and I think it shows. I would recommend everyone to pick it up unless monsters and eerie horroresque novels are not your thing.
Have you read this book or any other books by the author?
Are you a fan of horror books? I’m usually not one for them but then again, I wouldn’t really label this one as full-fledged horror. It’s a mix of genres.
Do you think this is a book for you? Will you be adding it to your TBR or picking it up soon?