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Season of Secrets is a book by Sally Nicholls about a young girl’s struggle with bereavement.

Molly and Hannah are sent by their father to live with his parents after their mother dies suddenly of an aneurysm.  Both girls are bereft, feeling that they have lost their mother and their father in quick succession.  Hannah expresses her grief through anger, Molly is quieter and more reflective.

The story is told through Molly’s eyes, and starts when Hannah persuades Molly to run away from their grandparents one wild and stormy night. Molly loses Hannah in the storm, but instead finds a wounded man in the lane, who is being hunted by the ‘wild hunt’ and a man who looks like the devil on horseback.

Molly tries to save him, and helps him take shelter in a barn nearby.  When she tries to tell her family about him they all think she is making it up.  Molly visits the man, learning that he is magical, and finding out through a school trip to their local church that he is the ‘green man’ of legend.

The story tracks Molly through the course of her year of grieving and coming to terms with losing her mum, and its symbolic resonance with the life and death cycle the Green Man and his polar opposite, the Holly King enact against the wild backdrop of the Yorkshire moors.

This is a thoughtful and poetic story which deals with bereavement in a sensitive and refreshing way, linking it to the natural rhythms of life that are enacted in all living things.  It does not shy away from sadness or the seeming cruelty of death, but it does offer hope and redemption on different levels. The mythological background to the story is an interesting twist on quite a common theme in current children’s literature.

The book is suitable for confident readers aged ten and up, and is probably more biased towards girls than boys.

Sally Nicholls has written two other books; ‘All Fall Down’, which is about a young woman who lives through the plague in Medieval England and which is suitable for readers of 12 and up; and ‘Ways To Live Forever’, which won the Waterstones’ Prize for Fiction and is about a teenage boy with leukaemia.

You can access her website by clicking on the link here.

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