The best books about secrets

54 authors have picked their favorite books about secrets and why they recommend each book.

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Do You Have a Secret?

By Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, Marta Fabrega (illustrator),

Book cover of Do You Have a Secret?

For children, secrets can be a fun part of life. However, some secrets can be disturbing and even dangerous for a child to keep. Do You Have a Secret helps young children make the distinction between good secrets and bad secrets. Read together with a parent, a child can learn which secrets should not be kept inside, as well as how talking about them can actually help them feel better. This well-written book should be considered essential to a parent’s library of books that increase communication between parents and children. In today’s world, some secrets can be devasting to a child’s emotional health and well-being. Setting the stage for children to talk about them is one of the best things we can do in a world where there are simply too many secrets for children to cope with.

Who am I?

As a practicing psychologist for the past twenty years, I have treated hundreds of children and teens who have behavior problems, as well as provided help for parents who want to improve their parenting skills. Central to many, if not most, of the problems I see revolve around poor communication. Many parents don’t know how to effectively communicate about certain issues, which often causes even more problems with their children. However, when parents learn how to approach their children without reacting in frustration and anger, I’ve witnessed amazing improvement in both behavior and the parent-child relationship.

I wrote...

Closing Pandora's Box: Empowering Parents to Help Their Children Reject Pornography

By Gail A. Poyner,

Book cover of Closing Pandora's Box: Empowering Parents to Help Their Children Reject Pornography

What is my book about?

You may be concerned that your child/teen has been exposed to pornography, or discovered that they are regularly viewing it. However, there are few books written by experts to assist parents in helping their children resist the incredibly strong pull of one of today’s most damaging and pervasive addictions. Closing Pandora’s Box is just that—a guide to help parents teach their children the skills they need to reject this increasingly disturbing media.

Closing Pandora’s Box is full of resources, education, and worksheets to assist you and your child/teen cope with the relentless onslaught of pornography and its damaging effects. With effective communication, skill, and the power of relationships, parents can make a difference when it comes to fighting the dangerous riptide of pornography. 

Waiting for the Night Song

By Julie Carrick Dalton,

Book cover of Waiting for the Night Song

Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn’t she always know her secret would surface? An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farmworkers and locals.

I love how Carrick-Dalton gives us parallel storylines about a secret buried by her protagonist and the truth of the climate crisis that the fossil fuel industry wants to bury.

Who am I?

I am obsessed with books about people fighting for social justice—particularly around racism and the climate crisis (which are definitely interconnected). I have two main approaches: people with longstanding commitments to making change who take increasingly bold steps to fight for justice, and the accidental activists, who had no intention of taking on injustice, but found themselves in unexpected circumstances and rose to the occasion. I write stories about people—mostly women of color—who are part of teams and movements who fight to make the world right, and win. I think of myself as trying to create roadmaps for us to win in the fight against racism and the climate crisis in the real world.

I wrote...

A Spy in the Struggle

By Aya de Leon,

Book cover of A Spy in the Struggle

What is my book about?

When the FBI raids Yolanda Vance’s prestigious Manhattan law firm, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she's sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extremist” organization back in her California college town fighting for climate justice and Black Lives.

She’s anticipating a career win – not for an unexpected romance to open her heart and a suspicious death to open her eyes. Corporate money forces will do anything to bury Yolanda and the movement. As the stakes escalate, and one misstep could cost her life, Yolanda will have to decide between betraying the cause of her people or invoking the wrath of the world’s most powerful law enforcement agency.

Wicked Lovely

By Melissa Marr,

Book cover of Wicked Lovely

Dark and delicious. Two of the most apt words to describe this thrilling story. I adore the world Melissa created and the equally dark and delicious fae who populate it. There's a certain poetry between the characters, and I love how Aislinn learns to face her greatest fears, a skill that will serve anyone well when venturing into the dark and dangerous realm of the Fae. You'll be hooked into this story in no time because it grabs your interest from the very first page, a must for me to get invested in any story because I confess, I’m a little impatient that way. I also love the ink twist on it… and the side characters you’ll fall in love with, they will eventually all get their turn in the spotlight, which is the perfect reason to keep reading through the entire series… and to date, there are a lot…

Who am I?

Author. Artist. Teacher. Faerie Changeling. My fascination with all things relating to the fantasy realms started as early as I can remember. I’ve studied in depth the lore and mythos of faeries, witches, elves, and vampires. There’s something so compelling about them, so it made sense I would grow up reading and writing about them. Now, as a full-time author, it remains my favorite subject to explore. The parallels between the world we see and the world of the unseen are enchanting. There is, after all, more to heaven and earth than meets the eye… and it’s in those unseen spaces in between that I find myself most at home.

I wrote...

Fire and Ice (Faerie Song Saga)

By Michele Barrow-Belisle,

Book cover of Fire and Ice (Faerie Song Saga)

What is my book about?

Born with the power to heal with a touch, eighteen-year-old Lorelei has spent most of her life oblivious of the Fey, and their dangerous bargains. Until Adrius storms into her life.

The stranger with a dangerous mystique, and eyes that peer into her soul, turns up everywhere and knows more about her than any newcomer should. Including the condition of her mother, who is suffering from a mysterious illness neither modern medicine nor Lorelei’s gifts can cure. Accepting his help to save her leads Lorelei into a thrilling world of Witches, Elves, and Fey. When crossing over might mean never coming back, can Lorelei find a way to save her mother? Or will one pivotal mistake put the fate of their world and her soul in jeopardy?


By C.J. Skuse,

Book cover of Sweetpea

I should perhaps be concerned about how much I liked the main character in C.J.Skuse’s Sweetpea given that she’s a murdering psychopath. She’s very normal on the surface but, oh the things she does to men who follow women on dark canal paths… I’m sure we’ve all had little fantasies about doing the same (I hope it’s not just me). She’s rude, funny, and extremely violent!

Who am I?

I’m a writer, and an enthusiastic reader, of crime fiction. And although I love dark fiction, I’ve realised that subtle humour is the spice that takes a book to the next level for me. Whether it’s a turn of phrase that makes me guiltily cheer along or an interaction with a partner or colleague that makes me wince with recognition, I love dark books that make me smile! These are some of my favourites – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

I wrote...

The Devil's Dice

By Roz Watkins,

Book cover of The Devil's Dice

What is my book about?

Detective Inspector Meg Dalton is on a mission to reinvent herself in her new job in Derbyshire. When she's assigned a suspicious death, it's her chance to prove she's fully sane and functional again. But it's a sinister case – a poisoned corpse has been found in a cave under a centuries-old carving that seems to predict the man's death.

With talk of a curse extending to the times of the witch trials and a labyrinth where teenagers go to hang themselves, Meg's struggling to tell what's real or right. Is death always bad or can it be a gift, as her mother claims? Meg finds her own life at risk as she's torn between solving the case and keeping her family's darkest secrets.

Within These Wicked Walls

By Lauren Blackwood,

Book cover of Within These Wicked Walls

This young adult novel is a fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre, my favourite Victorian gothic novel. While readers of classic gothic novels will recognize the familiar tropes, Within These Wicked Walls is a wholly original story, with elements of Ethiopian culture and a fierce, badass Black heroine. If you’ve ever wished Mr. Rochester’s house in Jane Eyre was actually haunted, this is the book for you!

Who am I?

I’ve loved the gothic genre ever since I first read Jane Eyre as a student of Victorian Literature. My PhD thesis focused on Dracula, another Victorian gothic novel, and The Curse of Morton Abbey pays homage to classics like these. What I love most about the genre is its symbolism: like vivid dreams, gothic novels express our deepest fears and longings. It’s no accident that Jungian archetypes show up in gothic novels as often as they do in dreams, and I’ve enjoyed analyzing these texts in my work as an English professor. Also, I just really like stories that send chills up my spine and give my lifelong insomnia a purpose!

I wrote...

The Curse of Morton Abbey

By Clarissa Harwood,

Book cover of The Curse of Morton Abbey

What is my book about?

The Secret Garden meets Jane Eyre in a gothic tale of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire.

A young woman solicitor accepts a suspiciously lucrative offer of employment to prepare the sale of a crumbling estate, but when she arrives, the mysterious occupants of the house try to drive her away. As she is drawn deeper into the dark secrets of the family, she can’t be certain she’ll escape Morton Abbey with her sanity—or even her life—intact.

The Glory Wind

By Valerie Sherrard,

Book cover of The Glory Wind

The Glory Wind is set on the prairies in 1940 and is a wonderful story for the reader who enjoys a good cry. Eleven-year-old Luke is attracted to an imaginative and impulsive new classmate Gracie. Their innocent friendship is tried and tested by small-town prejudices over Gracie’s mother’s morality and Luke struggles to stay true. Then tragedy in the form of a tornado throws Luke’s heart to the wind.

Who am I?

When I was invited to write a historical fiction that appealed to male readers, I wanted to showcase the struggles and dramas in peacetime rather than in war. Scientists vilifying the fly in order to demonstrate the connection between microbes and disease—and enlisting children to kill the flynow that was a battle I could get behind. Revenge on the Fly, in all the forty books I’ve written, is my only foray into historical fiction. However, like most writers, I read across the genres voraciously. What I most love to read and write about are strong characters who demonstrate unwavering resilience.

I wrote...

Revenge on the Fly

By Sylvia McNicoll,

Book cover of Revenge on the Fly

What is my book about?

“Why must everyone I love die?” That’s the question 12-year-old William Alton asks of his father when a shipmate falls ill on their voyage to Canada. At his new school, Will gets a surprising answer. In 1912, cities around the world declare war on the fly, blaming it for the spread of all disease: summer complaint, typhus, consumption, and typhoid.

To avenge his mother and his sister’s recent deaths, Will throws himself into the local fly-killing contest using ingenuity and determination to rise to the top ranks. Along the way, he makes an enemy of wealthy super competitor Fred Aitken. Can Will beat Fred at his own game or will he maintain his integrity and stay on track of his real mission?

Run Like Jager

By Karen Bass,

Book cover of Run Like Jager

I love this book because it also deals with an aspect and perspective on WWII that isn’t commonly explored, and Karen Bass is such a good writer. This novel is about Kurt, a Canadian boy who wonders what his German grandfather did during WWII while drafted into the Wehrmacht. When Kurt goes to Germany to do some research, he finds out more than he would have liked. 

Who am I?

I am a Canadian-Ukrainian children’s author and former librarian. My great-aunt was a sniper with the Ukrainian underground, fighting both Hitler and Stalin. She was executed after the war by the Soviets and buried in a mass grave. Her mother was sent to a gulag in Siberia and never heard from again. I will never know all that happened to my ancestors, but I can give voice to others whose culture, life, and history were erased in the same way. Every novel I’ve written has delved into a piece of the past that has been shoved under the carpet for political reasons.

I wrote...

Traitors Among Us

By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch,

Book cover of Traitors Among Us

What is my book about?

Hitler is dead, the war is over. Ukrainian sisters Krystia and Maria are reunited and finally safe in an American refugee camp. A familiar girl walks into their barracks claiming to be a fellow slave laborer, but she’s Sophie, a bully from the Hitler Youth. Before the sisters can turn her in, Sophie denounces the sisters as Nazi collaborators to Soviet soldiers who storm the barracks. Nothing could be further from the truth but the soldiers don’t care. All three girls are kidnapped and taken to the Soviet Zone for interrogation and imprisonment. Plunged into unimaginable danger, will the sisters be able to prove their innocence?

“Gripping, harsh, and superbly written.” – KIRKUS, starred review

Cast in Firelight

By Dana Swift,

Book cover of Cast in Firelight

Cast in Firelight is such an awesome combination of romance, adventure, and feminism! It’s about two teens arranged to be married who always try to outdo each other. After years of not seeing each other, they meet up, but each thinks the other is someone else. They end up teaming up to save their countries and start to fall for each other. I adored the mix of rom-com and superhero fantasy action, and especially how powerful a girl can be when she puts her mind to it and trusts herself.

Who am I?

I grew up loving sci-fi and fantasy, but especially today, I recognize how a lot of older sci-fi is patriarchal or even misogynistic. When I started to write my own books, like A Dragonbird in the Fern, I vowed to create my fantastical settings as I’d like our world to be someday—with all genders considered equal. Whether it’s a queen wielding all of the power or a witch who can save the world, women and girls in my stories get things done, and no one bats an eye. 

I wrote...

A Dragonbird in the Fern

By Laura Rueckert,

Book cover of A Dragonbird in the Fern

What is my book about?

A Dragonbird in the Fern is a young adult fantasy about a dyslexic princess named Jiara whose older sister Scilla is assassinated. Despite not speaking the language, Jiara takes her sister’s place as the bride to the young king of a faraway country, hoping she can catch Scilla’s murderer before her vengeful ghost kills their family. But that makes Jiara the assassin’s next target.

Be ready for women and girls who rule countries, wield knives and javelins as bodyguards, and are political strategists—and also men who care about what women think and don’t stand in their way.

Spinning Silver

By Naomi Novik,

Book cover of Spinning Silver

Rumpelstiltskin and Beauty and the Beast in a realm of Slavic folklore. This little gem manages to spin these tales in a new light, while seamlessly weaving them together into a beautiful tapestry that creates the illusion that they were always one story. I appreciated that the protagonist wasn’t your average damsel in distress, nor was she some passive princess strung along throughout the narrative through chance and misfortune; Miryem is a well-rounded character, head-strong and frank, whose actions (turning silver into gold, albeit in a more realistic way) capture the attention of a fey “beast” who might just have as cold of a heart as she claims to have. Novik modernizes these classic fairy tales while offering a unique plot with twists and turns that will keep readers absorbed. 

Who am I?

I developed an interest in classical literature while at university, folklore in particular. It’s fascinating how fairy tales originated in oral form before being written and rewritten all over the world for generations, and as such, many of them don’t have a single founding author. But each adaption generally maintains the basic plot points of the original tale, and it’s interesting to see how time, culture, and perspective affect a retelling. There’s always room for interpretation, especially when the traditional narratives often involve exhausted themes and stereotypes, and so with my latest novel, I didn’t hold back when it came to the creative possibilities of more than one fairy tale. 

I wrote...

The Girl with Many Names

By S. Knight,

Book cover of The Girl with Many Names

What is my book about?

The Girl with Many Names is a dark retelling that combines myth and fairy tale into a single chronological narrative, exposing the many faces of the once nameless villain. Born with magic in a realm intolerant of sorcery, this antihero endures ridicule and misfortune at every turn, thus muddying the line dividing justice and vengeance. As the truth of her past begins to reveal itself, she struggles to disprove the villainous reputation thrust upon her, an endeavor that threatens the restraint on her growing powers. But an obscure prophecy seems to dictate her fate, triggering a chain of events that will culminate in the ultimate confrontation with a fated adversary. 

The Secret Keepers

By Trenton Lee Stewart, Diana Sudyka (illustrator),

Book cover of The Secret Keepers

Trenton Lee Stewart’s follow-up to his enormously popular and influential “Mysterious Benedict Society” series was received with puzzlement by many fans expecting a retread of the MBS adventures, but I find this audacious, intricately-plotted, wildly implausible tale somewhat irresistible. It all kicks off when eleven-year-old Reuben, at once introverted and adventure-seeking, discovers a strange watch that ensnares him in deep troubles. Finding his way out proves endlessly complex and bewildering as Reuben sifts through one peril after the next. It’s a beguiling tale for those doubly-willing to suspend disbelief—Stewart dares the reader to try.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to stories that feature mysterious locales and secret objects and strange or magical occurrences, so books with these elements—particularly when the main characters in the books are young people learning about themselves and the world around them—are often very satisfying to me. There’s something naturally engaging, I believe, in tales where someone is thrust into a disorienting situation and has to make sense of the uncertainty he or she faces. The books I’ve written for young readers all tend in this direction, and so I’m always on the hunt for stories along these same lines.

I wrote...


By Ben Guterson, Chloe Bristol (illustrator),

Book cover of Winterhouse

What is my book about?

Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?

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