Today, I’ve got something truly special for you: The House of Hidden Wonders by Sharon Gosling (with a gorgeous cover by Hannah Peck). I don’t write about children’s books a lot, and I don’t read them nearly enough, but I really hope to do so more, as this was an absolute treat from beginning to end.
Many thanks to Charlie Morris and Little Tiger Publishing for the review copy in exchange for this honest review.
RELEASE DATE: 02/04/20
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: Zinnie and her sisters live in the murky tunnels beneath Edinburgh’s Old Town. They keep out of the way of the authorities and remain undetected. Until, that is, rumours of a ghost bring unwanted visitors into the caverns they call home. Among them, a young Arthur Conan Doyle, keen to investigate, and MacDuff, the shady owner of Edinburgh’s newest attraction, the House of Wonders.
Caught up in a world of intrigue and adventure, Zinnie seeks answers. But how can she discover what secrets lie in the House of Wonders while also protecting the sisters she holds so dear? (from Little Tiger)
OPINIONS: So, all I had to hear was history, adventure, museum and curious girls, and I was hooked! Once I started reading, it took no time for me to lose myself in Zinnie’s Edinburgh, and join her on her quest to protect her sisters and discover the secret of the House of Wonders. The House of Hidden Wonders is a thrilling story of a group of young girls making their way in a world stacked against them, featuring themes of found family, diversity and acceptance. Through the story of ghosts and mystery, ultimately, Zinnie shows the world around her how crucial it is to see beyond the obvious and accept and support each other for who they are. We modern grown-ups would do well to listen to her!
In its historical Edinburgh setting, we encounter some familiar figures, such as a young Arthur Conan Doyle, a medical student who is embarking on his first writing exploits, or Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first female doctors, who opened a practice in Edinburgh in the late nineteenth-century. Others, such as Lady Sarah or Macduff might not be historical figures, but fit into the story just as well, and round out the cast of adults. The girls, Zannie, Sadie, Nell and Aelfine are all utterly different and equally wonderful, each with their quirks and flaws, but lovable to the core. Nell is portrayed as dark-skinned, and Aelfine was likely born with what we would call Down Syndrome today – making Zannie fiercly protective of them, and educating the world in how they should be treating them. It is clear that much care went into researching The House of Hidden Wonders, and the effort pays off.
In short, this is everything I would have wanted in a children’s book back when I was a child, and I would happily buy The House of Hidden Wonders for any child in my life! (And really, kidlit is great for getting your mind off things during this awful situation, so why not try it for yourself?) Add it on Goodreads here, or pre-order it from Waterstones or your retailer of choice, you won’t regret it!