Secrets, traps, puzzles, a watch, and a story passed down through generations of a family. Crafting a tale from these elements, Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Secret Keepers follows the story of an adventurous boy as he attempts to figure out the mystery behind the curious watch he found.
Eleven year old Ruben is good at climbing things and staying out of sight. The latter is aided from something he found tucked away high up on a building during one of his climbs. Hoping that the watch can help get him and his mother out of their financial troubles, Ruben takes the watch to various shops to try to figure out its value. When he meets the watchmaker Miss Genevieve, Ruben has found one of his first friends as she is aware how special Ruben’s watch is, due to the city’s overlord, The Smoke, asking for any information on such an item surfacing. With a strange watch that doesn’t seem to be able to tell time, Ruben sets off on an adventure to figure out the watch’s mystery.
The story moves along quickly, which I was happy to see since this middle grade novel is quite a tome. The narration also uses an “adultish” tone consistently throughout so it isn’t treating readers as if they’re unable to grasp what’s going on. It’s got some fun artwork throughout, that even though the final art is yet to come, will certainly be a good addition to the text to illustrate various situations and help emphasize particular story elements or character traits. The aspect of invisibility, with drawbacks, is slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter and his invisibility cloak, which I’m totally OK with.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.