The black book of secrets

The black book of secrets

The black book of secrets

In The Black Book of Secrets, the hero is a young lad with the rather unlikely name of Ludlow Fitch. Ludlow lives in poverty in 19th century England. The story starts with Ludlow tied to a chair. There is a scoundrel hovering nearby, waiting to pull out all of Ludlow's teeth in order to sell them to rich people who have lost their own teeth. Ludlow narrowly escapes. After a long chase, he finds his way to a distant village, Pagus Parvus. There, he meets an extraordinary man named Joe Zabbidou.

Joe is a pawnbroker; but Joe has another, stranger trade. He buys secrets, dark, deep secrets that haunt people, secrets dripping with the guilt of deceit, treachery, and even murder. One by one, the villagers at Pagus Parvus turn up at Joe's house, in the dead of the night, to confess.

Joe pays good money for the secrets; yet all that he does is record the secrets in a big black book. Nothing more. No threats, no blackmail.
No reason, either, that anybody can fathom. And who writes in the Black Book while the confessions are being made? Ludlow!

Jeremiah Ratchet is a rich and wicked man who rules the village because everybody is in his debt. However, with the help of the money that they get from pawning junk at Joe's shop and from telling Joe their secrets, the villagers begin to repay their debts.
The real story starts when an angry Ratchet tries to turn the villagers against Joe. The villagers are confused. Is Joe a good man or bad? Why is he collecting their secrets? Why is he writing them down?

The suspense builds up, and the story races to its conclusion when the villagers find out the truth and solve their problems once and for all; but the whole truth emerges only when Ludlow finds out who Joe really is, and what his own destiny in life might be.
This book is brilliantly written, with characters from Polly the Maid to Saluki the Frog all playing cameo roles.

The atmosphere is Dickensian and the style is classic, but the book is clearly targeted at a young audience. The simplicity and readability of the writing and the excellence of the plot make this book a must-read for children and adults alike.
F.E. Higgins has received several awards for her writing. Her other books include The Bone Magician and The Eyeball Collector.

Chittaranjan Andrade

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