Secret of the Sevens ★★☆☆☆

cover58754-mediumThe Society of Seven isn’t a big secret at Singer, a boarding school for underprivileged children. Everyone knows, decades ago, the members of the secret society murdered the school’s founder and then perished in the sire they lit to cover the evidence.

Enter Talan Michaels, who doesn’t care about Singer’s past, or much else for that matter. He’s too focused on the fact that he’ll be homeless once he graduates since he never had the grades to go to college or do much else around town. Then he’s invited to join the resurrected Society of Seven to help the school and now he’s all tangled up in a mystery that someone will kill to keep hidden.

And yet, I just don’t care. About halfway through, the characters felt like undeveloped flat cardboard props just used the story of the Society of Sevens out into the world. I kept reading, hoping that it would get better.

I was admittedly intrigued by the mystery at hand in Secret of the Sevens. Who were the Sevens? Who are they now? Why is Stephen Kane trying to sell the school?

And then I just felt like: Why am I reading this?

The news that Kane, the new Head of the Board of Directors, is trying to sell the school is no spoiler. It happens within the first five chapters. Think that’s a little too soon? Yeah, me too.

Talan Michaels and DeLaney Shanahan both get envelopes with mysterious instructions to go to graveyards, follow winding tunnels, investigate paintings, columns, plaques, and other school artifacts. And it’s through that that Talan and Delaney find themselves at the end of a coal tunnel, in the right place, at the right time to overhear Stephen Kane talk about selling the school.

“Oh no! Not that!”

These characters are reacting only for the sake of moving the story. I do not genuinely feel bad for any of them. Now, sure, the students at this school are from poor backgrounds and don’t have a lot of opportunities, we are told almost constantly. And Talan will be homeless after he graduates, we are told frequently.

But selling the school? Mwahahaha? That’s the worst possible thing? And for the longest time, yeah, that’s his worst quality. Spending money on cars and treats for a select group instead of using it to better the school. But shock of all shocks-Stephen Kane is really the one who murdered William Singer and five of the Sevens!

But wait there’s more!

Katherine, a woman on the board, used to work under Singer’s lawyer and conveniently recognizes his signature on a legal document that can save the school AND SHE WAS ONE OF THE SEVENS WHO ESCAPED!

Who could’ve guessed it?

Even better Ceasar Solomon, an ethics professor, comes forward years later about the accidental death of Mary Singer and about being an accessory to murder, naming Stephen Kane.

Oh good. It’s almost like all the work was done for these kids. 

Too clean. That’s my verdict on the action.

As for the romance: why do we need romance? Why can’t we have a book where a boy and girl are just friends? And no one is attracted to the other? And no one is surprised when the other one cleans up?

Sometimes it’s appropriate: Ron and Hermione? Built up through a seven year long friendship. Harry and Ginny? Same thing. America and Prince Maxson? In and out and kind of central to the plot.

Talan and DeLaney? Distracting.

 I give Secret of the Sevens two stars for the effort and I’m hesitant to recommend it to anyone.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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