The Book of Living Secrets – Madeleine Roux – ARC Review

Title: The Book of Living Secrets
: Madeleine Roux
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: March 1st, 2022 (Quill Tree Books)

Synopsis: No matter how different best friends Adelle and Connie are, one thing they’ve always had in common is their love of a little-known gothic romance novel called Moira. So when the girls are tempted by a mysterious stranger to enter the world of the book, they hardly suspect it will work. But suddenly they are in the world of Moira, living among characters they’ve obsessed about for years.

Except…all is not how they remembered it. The world has been turned upside down: The lavish balls and star-crossed love affairs are now interlaced with unspeakable horrors. The girls realize that something dark is lurking behind their foray into fiction – and they will have to rewrite their own arcs if they hope to escape this nightmare with their lives.

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins Canada, HCC Frenzy, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Best friends Adelle and Connie are huge fans of an obscure gothic romance novel called Moira. When the owner of an occult shop they like to frequent tells them of a spell that would allow them to enter the world of Moira and experience it for themselves, they are skeptical, but agree. But when they enter the book, nothing is as they remember it from the story. Far from the setting of fancy balls and secret romances that they expected, a monster lurks in the shadows, causing terrifying dreams and luring people to their deaths with a mysterious hypnotic power. The longer they stay in the world of Moira, the more things change, and the friends must figure out not only how to stop the monster, but also return home before it’s too late.

When I saw the blurb for this book, my first thought was the Inkheart series, which I absolutely loved back in middle school that also starts on a very similar premise. I daresay it would be any reader’s dream to enter their favorite book and interact with the world and characters, so there was little chance of me not picking up this book. Despite knowing from the synopsis that this was going to take a dark turn at some point, I wasn’t really prepared for something quite so H.P. Lovecraft-esque. Horror is not my genre of choice, yet this book jumps straight into the action, which is always a plus point in my book and it had me curious enough to keep reading. The world building unfortunately was quite choppy, and I couldn’t wrap my head around Moira’s Boston, or even properly visualize the setting, making this a rather confusing read at times. The writing was pretty good however, and the pacing remained consistent throughout.

The characters were interesting, though not very well developed in my opinion. This book is really more plot focused, and while there was a decent character arc for both Adelle and Connie, they were not as in depth as they could have been. One thing I did like was that upon entering the book, the two friends are separated immediately, landing in completely different places, which not only provides the opportunity to see what later turns out to be the two sides of the conflict, but also allows the reader to get to understand each of their characters separately. The two of them see a drastically different side of the world they love and come to understand the vast social and economic disparities that exist even in this fictional world (something the main character of the book, Moira, was utterly oblivious to), which was a nice touch. The other characters they know are also quite different when they meet them in person, and are much more than they seemed on paper.

Ultimately, I think it was the shaky world building that caused me to lower my rating of this book. More logic and explanation about the monster would have helped things greatly too. There were also several plot points left unresolved at the end of the book, which was rather annoying. Additionally, I didn’t like that the epilogue took place a couple of years after they return from Moira. Their returning to the real world, and whatever consequences followed (there should have been plenty considering they were missing for several days at least and one of them was seriously injured) was all completely glossed over.

While the ending itself turned out to be a bit rushed and chaotic, the last few lines of the epilogue were the shocking part. And given that particular reveal, I really hope that there will be a sequel – I would certainly read it! Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend this book for fantasy fans!

The Book of Living Secrets releases on March 1st, 2022.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!

12 thoughts on “The Book of Living Secrets – Madeleine Roux – ARC Review

  1. Rayo February 23, 2022 / 3:44 am

    Great review, reminds me of a movie called Jumanji where the characters had to enter the game to experience it for themselves. It was also a scary experience for them with lots of animals trying to hunt them down. This book is definitely something I would enjoy. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ramblings of a Nobody February 23, 2022 / 9:43 am

    Great review, sounds like a fun premise, and good to know it turns out to be quite horror focussed. Really like that you include the bits that didn’t work so well for you too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) February 27, 2022 / 6:17 pm

      Thanks for reading! The premise, I felt, was a bit misleading in that sense because I had no clue there would be any horror-like themes involved and it’s something I prefer to know ahead of time.


  3. readandreviewit1 February 23, 2022 / 2:04 pm

    Great review! This one’s been my tbr for a while now, and, despite the shaky worldbuilding, I’m glad to hear it was a good read overall! I love that the characters got separated very early, it’s great you got to see their individual characters and experiences. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) February 27, 2022 / 6:15 pm

      Thanks! The concept was what I liked the most, and I think having a strong premise made this a solid read despite some other pieces that didn’t work too well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. adoramichaels February 27, 2022 / 11:01 am

    Loved this!! Thank you for your time! I’m excited to put it on my tbr but to not have too high of expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

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