The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman
Book of the Month
Drearcliff Grange is a school bound by rules and traditions, everyone knows their place and when to keep their head down, and if you are a new "bug" you will soon learn them for your own survival. Drearcliff Grange is also a school for unusuals, these are people with extraordinary abilities who are nurtured by a seemingly ageless headmistress. As the title mentions, this is a book about secrets, most of the characters have at least one and keeping secrets at this school may just get you killed.
The book is set around the 1920s and is reminiscent of the best kind of boarding school stories, full of adventure and daring, which most of us have read at some point in our lives. There are five houses that make up the school, all with distinct personalities: Ariel, Desdemona, Goneril, Tamora and Viola. Although Kim Newman has managed a twist on this by giving some of the girls abilities, these may be a blessing or a curse depending on whose view you take. At a school where everyone has an edge, the reality is you can sink or swim, and Amy Thomsett is about to learn this for herself when she arrives at Drearcliff mid-term. Amy is unusual as she has the ability to float. Amy's mother wants her to stop this and believes Drearcliff Grange is the place where this will happen. Amy's mother is of the opinion that being able to float will hinder Amy's ability to get a husband.
Amy is lucky that the girls she shares a cell within Desdemona's third form: Frecks, Lightfingers and Kali decide that Amy is a good fit for their small group. Each girl is well rounded and the four of them compliment each others skills. Frecks has a way with words and is very forthright, Lightfingers is another unusual whose fingers move so quickly that it seems they are invisible and Kali is a Princess, who has learnt English from American magazines, so she talks like a gangster. Kali plans on becoming a Bandit Queen. All four girls have tragic backstories, which seems to almost be a prerequisite for joining the school. Over time, they become their own little gang, keeping an eye out for each other.
Things take a sinister turn when Kali is kidnapped, and Amy realises that she, Frecks and Lightfingers may be the only ones who can rescue Kali. To do this, they must keep their identities hidden, so the girls create The Moth Club. The Moth Club will uncover a dangerous conspiracy at the heart of Drearcliff and unveil other people's secrets. The world of Drearcliff Grange turns darker as the plot moves forward and it is up to Amy and her friends to discover if they have the strength to overcome the horrors and challenges they soon have to face.
For such a large cast of characters, it can sometimes be overwhelming to try and work out whether the character being mentioned is important in the grand scheme of things, although they do make the school more well rounded and can sometimes be quite humorous. Apart from the main cast, the secondary characters are all very well defined from The Murdering Heathens who are made up of Whips (prefects) who rule the school to The Remove who are the social outcasts. Kim Newman has also made the unusual powers far more interesting than the ability to be able to fly.
Drearcliff Grange school is full of rituals, and it does bring up some questions about the nature of boarding schools, such as, does bullying really help build character? The book feels well researched and timeless and crosses themes that are wide ranging from issues of trust to mind control and social experiments that may affect the future. The school teaches the girls how to work in teams, as well as when you need to go it alone and really builds on each characters strengths and weaknesses.
The book has a good tone within a self-contained world that has its own rhythm and rules. Kim Newman has written a fast paced story that is full of action and intrigue that makes the book hard to put down. The characters are engaging as they continue to get into situations that they may not be able to handle when it is not just student versus student, but also children versus adults. This is not a book about sunshine and rainbows, this is a book that at times is very dark, which also has chilling moments throughout. At the same time, this is a really enjoyable read that has given me a new descriptive word of "Crumpets!" for when you need to exclaim. I can see myself re-reading this book time and again, and with the mention of the Diogenes Club which has appeared in a few other Kim Newman stories, I have hopes of seeing some of these characters again.
This The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School book review was written by Michelle Herbert
Have you read The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School reader reviews
9.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Ursula Le Guin
As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and hel...
The Kingkiller Chronicle
"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my l...
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him wh...
Year of the Unicorn
Far from the besieged home of Simon and Jaelithe, in peaceful Norsdale, we meet Gillan, who longs to leave her dull life in a secluded country abbey. But when her wish come...
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her...
The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off...
The Lightbringer Trilogy
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. His strength, wit and charm are all that preserve a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exac...
The Saga of Recluce
LE Modesitt Jr
Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circum...
Raymond E Feist
Crydee, a frontier outpost in the Kingdom of the Isles. An orphaned young boy named Pug becomes a master magician’s apprentice and two world’s destinies are for...
Memory Sorrow and Thorn
A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard--for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dyi...
Enter the kingdom of Lur, where to use magic unlawfully means death. The Doranen have ruled Lur with magic since arriving as refugees centuries ago. Theirs was a desperate ...
The Night Circus
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterl...
The Chaoswar Saga
Raymond E Feist
The Darkness is coming… The Kingdom is plagued by rumour and instability. Kingdom spies in Kesh have been disappearing - either murdered, or turned to the enemy side...
The Toy Sorcerer
Trapped as a mortal in a dimension where human dreams become reality, Alice Towers endures a journey of unmerciful persecution and excruciating self-discovery. Guided by an...
The Black Magician Trilogy
Each year the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended contemporary / urban fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring wizards and magicians
- Recommended young adult fantasy books
Best of 2016
Stranger of Tempest
Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's prin...
A warrior prince, a talented spy. A quest to free an enslaved people begins.Crown Prince Aven Lanuken wants something more than a trophy for a future wife. He wants a woman wh...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her alone. Garbled warnings from bizarre creatures keep her up at night. And there’s a time portal in the keg room of the bar where she works. Soon, Hallie is tumbling through...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...