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The Black Book of Secrets (Tales From The Sinister City, #1)
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The Black Book of Secrets (Tales From The Sinister City #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,672 Ratings  ·  418 Reviews
When Ludlow Fitch's parents cruelly betray him, he steals away on the back of a carriage and leaves behind the stinking City. He arrives in the dead of night at a remote village, where he crosses paths with the tall and limping figure of Joe Zabbidou - a pawnbroker with a difference. For Joe trades secrets, not goods, for cash.

Ludlow is employed to record the villagers' fi
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 7th 2007 by MacMillan Children's Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Elad Amon The Bone Magician, The Eyeball Collector and the Lunatic's Curse
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Ahh, an interesting little book. I've been catching up on YA (fantasies) books of late. This one is a bit "younger" than the others I've read recently. But don't get me wrong here. Older readers (such as myself) can still enjoy this. It is in its own way a well crafted story with people you'll probably find interesting and a somewhat unique story. It starts off a little slowly setting up our young hero's back ground (the opening scene itself isn't slow of course as our young protagonist flees th ...more
Apr 15, 2009 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that bedclothes and flashlights were invented for. Young pickpocket Ludlow Fitch escapes his frightful parents in the City and finds himself in the remote village of Pagus Parvus. There he's taken in as apprentice by another newcomer to the village, Joe Zabbidou (as in "Zabbi Zabbi Dou!" this erstwhile Flintstones fan kept thinking), who's a pawnbroker of secrets -- that is, people tell him their deepest secrets while Ludlow records them in Joe's mysterious black book, ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
This isn't horror, but has a sort of a Victorian Gothic feel. For a middle grade novel, it has kind of a dark, almost pessimistic tone. That is not to say that good has no chance of winning out in this book, but it has some unfortunately true insights on human nature that are far from uplifting. But what I did like about it was that the ability to choose for yourself the decisions you make, even though people like the main villain thrive on manipulating peoples' weaknesses. In the end, we can ma ...more
Nov 27, 2008 Reita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Symbolism. I couldn't help feel that this is a story about Jesus. We tell him our troubles or "secrets," we feel better about ourselves, we like/love Him, and then we start blaming Him for everything, turn our back on Him. Joe tells Ludlow to be patient, it will work out. Things do work out, the bad guy gets his comeuppence and Joe moves on to another village to help other people.
That's what I felt when I read this book. The other reviews I read didn't mention this aspect. What do you think?
Feb 11, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction
Reviewed first at Brunner's Bookshelf

I saw this book on Goodreads and it sounded pretty good. It sat in my to-read list for awhile until I saw it available in audio at my library. I gave it a try and liked it. I didn't know what to think at first because it started off pretty bleak. Our Main character Ludlow Fitch is with his parents and they are selling his teeth. Yes, you read it correctly, Ludlow's Parents took him to a man who is going to rip out his teeth and buy them from his parents. As a
Emily Dangler
Honestly, the only reason I picked The Black Book of Secrets up in the first place was because I read the summary of another one of F. E. Higgins' books, The Bone Magician, and thought that it sounded like a great little read. However - although not part of a series - The Bone Magician apparently has a plot that occurs at the same time as the plot of The Black Book of Secrets, so I thought it might be better to read this one first. I have to admit, I don't foresee myself making a special trip ou ...more
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
This is a pretty cool book which several reviews have called Dickensian. Not exactly being an expert on things Dickens, I'm not sure I can comment one way or the other - though I will say it has that bleak, cynical and sort of gothic atmosphere to it, which is what I think they're talking about.

The gist is that Ludlow Fitch escapes the horrors of his parents and the City, and stumbles across the path of Joe Zabbidou, he of the eponymous Black Book of Secrets. See, Joe is a pawnbroker, but while
Liz B
I'm wavering between two and three stars on this one. I'd probably consider a solid it three stars if it weren't a book club choice for my Teachers as Readers group. Since it is--and since my last read for this group was the wonderfulThe Housekeeper and the Professor--my main reaction is "really? How are we supposed to talk about this book for an hour?"

Premise: Ludlow is on the run from his horrible parents in the filthy and dangerous City, and he ends up in a small village under the thumb of a
Jan 12, 2009 Grace rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Russell Sanderson
I raced through this in a couple of days. An excellent middle grade fantasy, just dark enough to give it that gothic, Dickensian feel. I felt like I was reading a Terry Pratchett book with all the comedy removed. The characters (who definitely have names Charles Dickens would be proud of) came alive as the story went along, divulging their dark secrets to the mysterious Joe Zabbadou. Told from the perspective of young runaway urchin, Ludlow Fitch, the story keeps you turning the pages to find ou ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In F.E. Higgins' novel, The Black Book of Secrets, we are transported to a world full of mystery and intrigue as we follow young Ludlow Fitch as he stumbles into one of the most bizarre tales yet to hit the shelves. After escaping the clutches of his cruel and deceitful parents, he hitches a ride on the back of a wagon to a seemingly unimpressive village consisting of one street, a rundown church, and a tyrant who is slowly sucking the money and livelihoods from the poor inhabitants. Now, throw ...more
Katrina Gudgeon
Dec 17, 2015 Katrina Gudgeon rated it it was ok
Shelves: hard-copies
2.5 really. This books was really odd. People sold their secrets about burying people alive and poisoning their father and I find it wierd that they were so willing to tell such secrets for just a little bit of money. None of the characters interested me, and nothing exciting really happened. This was a short book, but it took me forever to read it because it just wasn't holding my attention well enough.
Aurora  Fitzrovia
Öhm und das war's jetzt?!
Also, irgendwie ist das ja schon ganz schön unbefriedigend, die Geschichte und alles. Es dümpelt alles nur so vor sich hin...hätte ich es doch mal besser abgebrochen. So wirklich was verpasst hätte ich ja nicht o_O
Dec 26, 2009 Ash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's not everyday that you find something as different as this book, the cover was a lure for me. I was expecting something a little more lighthearted than what I found, but in the end I fell in love with the darker style of writing and the darkness that seemed to be leaking from ever corner of this story. Of course what can we expect when we are reading a book about a character who not only holds a dark and terrible secret but works for a man who buys other peoples dark and often chilling secre ...more
I work in an elementary school, and I bought this book at my school's book fair back in April. I was attracted initially by the cover and then by the synopsis on the back. I thought it sounded like an intriguing book.

And so it was. It was also highly enjoyable and delightfully creepy. It's also very fast paced, and once I began reading I could not force myself to stop. I read the entire book in less than 24 hours.

The story is told through excerpts--or fragments, as the book calls them--taken fro
Mar 30, 2012 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins is a young readers book that crosses somewhere in between fantasy, historical fiction and religion.

Ludlow Fitch is a pick-pocket, living day by day on the streets, who helps support his crooked parents by selling off his loot to a pawn broker. But, one day when it's his parents that try to sell him off for money, he's forced to escape and run away. That's when Ludlow meets the curious character of Joe Zabbidou. Part pawn broker, part mystic and part prie
Mar 03, 2013 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
The Black Book of Secrets is the first of four loosely related YA novels in F.E. Higgins's Tales From the Sinister City series.

I was thoroughly impressed. The book has a very dark theme that vaguely reminded me of Stephen King's Needful Things.

The hero of the story is a young boy who had a rough beginning to life and manages to land a position with a pawnbroker who buys the darkest secrets from people for a very high price. But, to what end does he buy these secrets?

5 STARS and favorited

*** NOTE
May 25, 2014 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ludwig is the son of a pair of booze-soaked, penny-ante thieves. When he can take no more, he runs away, out of the city, and finds himself taken in by a Pawnbroker, Joe. Joe deals in not only items of value, but in secrets.
This book is mildly dark but the story was a good one. Ludwig learns there are adults who can be trusted, but there are many others who can't. He learns the value of honesty, and what it means to be trustworthy. He embarks on a new life that I hope to hear more about in furth
Floree K
Apr 22, 2015 Floree K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No es lo que me esperaba, pero estuvo bien. Fue una lectura rápida, sencilla y bastante entretenida.

Reseña ya disponible en mi blog, Booksick.
Flora Smith
Dec 03, 2011 Flora Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This was an intriguing little book that I quite enjoyed. Written for the younger end of the spectrum of young adult or even for those of us that are young at heart, most anyone will enjoy this one. There is much that even though set in the past is relevent to today. We see, as is true in life, that we all have done things that we aren't proud of. Everyone has things in their past that they don't want others to know about. And this doesn't make them bad people, only human. Even those people that ...more
Aug 23, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This was my first experience with the author FE Higgins and I absolutely loved this book! It's a dark and mysterious adventure of a boy in a mysterious city where everyone has a secret. It was lots of fun and I highly recommend it.
Ludlow runs away from his parents in the city when they try to pull his teeth out so they can have more gin money. He immediately hops on the back of a carriage and ends up in small mountain village where things are very wrong. The local lord has everyone in debt to him and he is using that debt to perform illegal activities. Ludlow ends up working for Joe Zabidou a pawn broker who also deals in secrets. Ludlow wants to trust Joe but he also feels like should do something about the land lord but ...more
Sep 11, 2010 Cornelia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this. It's young adult so I would think everyone from age nine to 129 would love this book. This is not steam punk - it does not have futuristic steam powered machines but in every other way it fits the steam punk mold. It is dark, mysterious, haunting, suspenseful, contains all the gloom of the 19th century working poor who are kept down and taken advantage of by the rich, it also has a hint of magic and mythology in it. And it's a page turner - I couldn't put it down. Anyone who likes st ...more
Bryce Kimble
May 13, 2016 Bryce Kimble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 06, 2016 Ariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay. this book is great. Considering I randomly Picked it up at the library while getting ready to go on a trip, I thought the cover would decive me, as most do when I choose a book at random. But this, did not. Full of Bodysnatchers, Grave Robbers, Cheating Death, Sweeney Todd wannabes, and 18th century Pawnbrokers, this book was literally perfect for me. I'm not sure when it takes place. I could only think it was sometime during the middle 1800's. The book centers around Ludlow Fitch, who run ...more
Adam Donald
This story is about a boy names Ludlow Fitch. Ludlow suffers from constant abuse from his parents. One night he decides to run away by becoming a stow a way on the back of a carriage. The carriage stops in the middle of the night, in a very small remote village. In this village Ludlow meets a tall, limping man named Joe Zabbidou who is a trader of sorts, however rather than selling goods, Joe sells secrets. Ludlow becomes Joe’s assistant and works at recording confessions from the towns people i ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Natalia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reseña ya disponible en el blog.

Cuando recibí este libro, no esperé que me llegara a gustar tanto como lo hizo. Había leído muy buenas reseñas, pero otra cosa muy diferente es sentirlo en carne propia.

Hay un detalle importante en los capítulos, y en el libro en sí. La autora nos escribe, en una nota antes del primer capítulo, que ella encontró dentro de una pata de palo y en hojas enrolladas, el Libro Negro de los Secretos y las memorias de Ludlow Fitch (nuestro personaje). Hay capítulos que ti
Annie Oosterwyk
Apr 19, 2011 Annie Oosterwyk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a surprise! I couldn't put this book down. The characters and their secrets were compelling and the whole idea of a secret pawnbroker was fresh. I think my students would love this because of the horrible behaviour of some of the characters, but these (grave robbing, tooth stealing, usury) are based in fact and explained at the end of the book in historical notes. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.
Jul 20, 2016 Raymond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Zabbidou is a secret pawnbroker, who pays for people’s secrets and records them in a black book. Hence the title. Ludlow Fitch is a pickpocket who escapes from his parents as they prepare to sell his teeth to keep them in gin. Pagus Parvus a small desolate mountain village is where these two characters meet and so unfolds a tale that has echoes of Dickens in its atmosphere, dark landscape, gravediggers, street urchins, and a fiendish landlord.

The story never dawdles as Zabbidou collects the
The Black Book of Secrets was the book that started me reading dark, twisted and unusual books. I found the book, and the two that came after it, in a charity shop, and couldn't help but have my interest spiked. As it turned out, I couldn't put it down.
The beginning of the book, when Ludlow Fitch, the main protagonist of the book escapes his alcohol-addicted parents, my attention was gripped at the fast paced action of the scene. And I didn't put down the book from there.
This book sent me on
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Would you like to read a sequel to this? 6 21 Mar 29, 2012 02:56PM  
  • Shadow Spell (Seven Sorcerers #2)
  • The Crowfield Curse (Crowfield Abbey, #1)
  • Endymion Spring
  • The Hunt for the Seventh
  • The Secret Country
  • Eye of the Crow (The Boy Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • Escape from Castle Cant
  • First Shot
  • The Night Tourist (Jack Perdu, #1)
  • Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles (Madame Pamplemousse, #1)
  • Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Theodosia Throckmorton, #1)
  • Magical Mischief
  • The Great Pyramid Robbery (The Seven Fabulous Wonders, #1)
  • Breathe: A Ghost Story
  • The Midnight Charter
  • The Slice (Killer Pizza #2)
  • Well Witched
  • The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming (Brotherhood of the Conch, #2)
F.E. Higgins has been fascinated by the macabre ever since seeing a ghostly apparition as a child. Nowadays Higgins travels the lands that these books describe, collecting strange artifacts and the even stranger stories behind them. When not in pursuit of a story, Higgins may be found in a haunted house in Kent, where a dismembered hand cradles a large diamond on the mantelpiece.
More about F.E. Higgins...

Other Books in the Series

Tales From The Sinister City (4 books)
  • The Bone Magician (Tales From The Sinister City, #2)
  • The Eyeball Collector (Tales From The Sinister City, #3)
  • The Lunatic's Curse (Tales From The Sinister City, #4)

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