I’m thrilled to announce that Return to the Secret Lake is now out and available to order after many many requests from readers over the years!
In this page-turning sequel to The Secret Lake we see Lucy come forward in time in search of a cure for Emma who has fallen dangerously ill. Of course, things are never straightforward where time tunnels and magical moles are concerned — and so unfolds a thrilling tale of time travel, rekindled friendships and new threats that no one could have foreseen.
Today is International Women’s Day, and I’ve chosen to coincide the book’s official launch with this date as half of the story is set in early 1900s London, when the Suffragette movement was extremely active. The movement provides a gentle backdrop in a few of the scenes, which I know young advance readers have found intriguing alongside other historical contexts and events. Also resonating with the theme of strong females is the bravery and resourcefulness shown by both Stella and Hannah from the present, and Lucy and others from the past as they risk everything to help Emma .
The story is not only about the girls, however — we also have Tom and Jack to root for as unexpected events unfold!
Researching Edwardian London
Below is a slide I shared at my World Book Day school visits here in the UK last week about my research into Edwardian London. Stella and Tom spend far more time in this period in Book Two — including venturing out into town — so I wanted to feel, see and breathe the atmosphere through their eyes.
What I loved about this research was diverting off in different directions and discovering little ‘aha’ moments which I knew needed to be in the story in some way, such as the craze of ‘rinking’ in Edwardian time (rollerskating in dedicated rollerskating rinks for those who could afford it), and bylaws being demanded by some to outlaw children rollerskating on pavements. Those children tended to come from poorer backgrounds who couldn’t afford to use the rinks, and I was pleased when reading Hansard reports from 1910-11 to see the young Winston Churchill standing up for them.
It’s amazing how many rabbit holes one can go down. But it was worth the many many hours — and, I hope, has helped ensure that the twists and turns of the story play out in contexts authentic to that time. I shall be writing separately about this in due course when preparing teaching resources. 😊
As any author will tell you, it’s always nerve-wracking launching a new book. Happily, the members of my small team of advance readers have given the story a very strong thumbs up. In the mix were children, parents (including a nurse), two teachers, two grandmothers and a couple of children’s authors.
You’ll find a few early reviews over on Amazon but here are a few more snippets sent to me directly:
“This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to ﬁnish! Each chapter brings new challenges, which the children face with determination and mastermind ideas. I loved their quick thinking and wittiness. But what stood out most was how much they cared for and looked out for each other.” Méabh ~ Aged 11 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Immerses the reader in the early 1900s and is really thought provoking for middle-grade readers. A great ﬁctional adventure and an excellent choice for connecting history with reading for pleasure.” ~ Michelle Gilbert, Primary teacher and Year 4 Book Club lead ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“I loved that there were so many mysteries mixed in with real history! One of the longest books I’ve read and I finished it in 4 days!” ~ Brooke, Aged 10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Visit BookMonster.ie to watch Méabh’s advance reader review
Where to buy
- View or order Return to the Secret Lake in print from Amazon
- View or order as an eBook from Amazon (discounted to $2.99/£2.99 for the initial launch period only!)
The print book is also available to order from all other online stores or via your high street bookshop. Signed copies will be in Barnes Bookshop from next week. Delivery times to other bookshops may vary in the first couple of weeks.
My next task is to commission a narrator for the audiobook. 😊
That’s if for now. I’m still catching up on piles of admin having caught Covid last weekend, which threw out many of my book launch plans and has left me making preparations up to the wire!
Still, such challenges pale into insignificance when compared with what is being faced by the citizens of Ukraine. I’m sure you will stand with me in hoping for a miracle and a swift resolution to this heartbreaking situation, even though that seems far off as I write.
Bye for now, Karen
PS: If you decide to buy Return to the Secret Lake, please do take a moment to leave a short review if you / your children enjoy it! Thank you!