The website of author Kaitlin Scirri

Review: The Secret Labyrinth by Pat Donovan and Jackie Stanley


The Secret LabyrinthThe Secret Labyrinth is a mystery/ adventure story for a middle grade audience. It is about a young American girl named Halley living in Scotland with her family. Halley is a little unusual, as one would expect the protagonist to be in such a book. She’s not very social and when she is, she prefers the librarian, who is her mother’s age, and an older gentleman named Jonathan, who is doing research in the area, to kids her own age. One day, Halley observes what she is convinced is a mermaid out in the sea. From there, the story begins to unfold.

While this story was creative, I do feel that it left something to be desired.  One of the best parts about middle grade adventure stories is the “good guy” learning to overcome whatever obstacles he or she has to in order to defeat the “bad guy”. They usually learn about themselves in the process. In The Secret Labyrinth, however, there really was no bad guy. There was a real estate development that wanted to build a resort by the water, tearing up a lot of ancient land, but there was no single defining character who seemed to be “behind it all,” which is something most readers have come to expect from this genre.

The characters of Halley and Jonathan were well written but Halley’s parents seemed unrealistic. Halley is only twelve years old. She turns thirteen in the book, but even at thirteen, her conversations with her parents don’t seem believable. At one point, she is trying to convince her dad to let her out of a commitment with her parents to spend time with her older friend Jonathan, and her dad’s response is, “You’re really growing up, Halley and I have to respect that you have your own interests. You’ll probably enjoy yourself more with Jonathan anyhow.” I know kids these days seem to have a lot more freedoms and be more independent that I did or was at that age, but I don’t think letting her go off for the evening with a grown man, who the family has not known long, instead of staying with her parents, is realistic.

I enjoyed the mysterious aspect of the story, and it certainly has magical qualities. One cannot picture Scotland and the sea without thinking of the magical and mysterious people who may have lived there once upon a time and what clues might remain from that time. There was also a nice twist at the end that I enjoyed. If you’re looking for a quick, imaginative read, I recommend trying The Secret Labyrinth. I can see this being a good chapter-a-night bedtime story to share with your kids.

The Secret Labyrinth is available now on Amazon.

My Review: 3 out of 5 stars

What I found to be a poetic passage from the book: “I smelled fresh dark earth mingling with the scent of salt and seaweed. The sun was breaking through a solid patch of grey when I looked up and saw a full circle of light like a rainbow cast over the sea.” – The Secret Labyrinth

Author: kaitsbookshelf

I am a freelance writer and published author of multiple juvenile nonfiction books and a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I'm also a book reviewer and blogger.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Secret Labyrinth by Pat Donovan and Jackie Stanley

  1. I felt this with a lot of books I’ve read recently. Interesting and good enough that I have finished them but not completely satisfying. Even now, I’m struggling to recall the names of even just one character 😞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I know what you mean! I recently read a book (not this one) but another book and when trying to describe it to a friend I was just like, “Well, it’s…I don’t know. I just know I finished it and I wouldn’t recommend it.” I hate feeling that way about a book but I am honest about the books I do and don’t like. Even if it’s a popular book at the time, if it just didn’t click for me, then it just didn’t click.


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