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Second Child

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,362 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Secret Cove. Ruggedly beautiful and remote, bordered by dark woods and deserted beaches, this postcard-perfect village harbors the mansions of the wealthy—families who have summered in splendid seclusion at Secret Cove for generations. Here, one hundred years ago, on the night of the annual August Moon Ball, a shy and lovely servant girl committed a single, unspeakable act ...more
Paperback, 355 pages
Published November 3rd 1991 by Bantam (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 21, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was the first book I read by John Saul. I was maybe 13 at the time and I found it in a basement. I was bored and figured I'd read. I opened it out of curiosity and was yanked in by the the first line- "When Polly MacIver awoke just before dawn that morning, she had not the slightest presentiment that she was about to die."
I devoured it and it scared the shit out of me. This is not what I call a 'visually' scary book. Saul does a good job with scene setting and you can easily imagine whateve
Aug 25, 2015 Space rated it it was ok
I read this one based on someone's recommendation, and was not at all unhappy with it. I did find, though, that I didn't like the author or his style. He seems a little amateur. He would find a word he liked, like 'sear' and he'd use it a boatload of times in just a few pages - noticeably. I don't like that. He does that all throughout the book. Altogether, this isn't a major thing, but coupled with his overuse of dialog attribution, and his severe POV shifts, I really felt let down. This seemed ...more
Apr 30, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
What a shame that some of the reviewers here have given away the plot!

I haven't read Second Child for a long time but I often think about getting it off the shelf once more.

Melissa, the second child of the title, is overjoyed when she discovers that her unknown elder sister Teri is coming to live with her father's new family at Secret Cove. What Melissa can't foresee is the horror and confusion that the beautiful Teri's arrival will bring to her own life, nor how her supposedly imaginary friend
Oct 11, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it
This is a story about Teri, who burnt down the house that she lived in, killing her mother and her stepfather. With the death of her mother, Teri is force to move to Secret Cove, with her father and his wife. Charles and Phyllis already have one daughter Melissa. Melissa is always being abused by her mother and can never do anything right. On the other hand, Teri is daughter that she always dreamed of having. Melissa has been sleepwalking for as long as she can remember. Her evil mother sometime ...more
NOTE : see this review and more on

Oh well I wish I'd have been able to give it even three stars, but I can't. So this gets a well deserved "it was ok" status.

I remember that after I read a book of Saul's, for the first time, I was so excited! He seemed to be such a good author, and I really liked the way he presented things! But I think what I read then was a lucky shot, because up to now everything else I've read from him turned out to be not so good!

He sti
Jan 03, 2010 carolyn rated it liked it
Money, love, jealousy, and murder are the topics of this story in my opinion. How people try to live up to the standards of other and portray themselves as someone they actually are not, and it doesn't matter who they hurt in the process as long as they are getting what it is that they themselves want. A girl ends up moving in with her father and stepmother and step sister after her real mother and stepfather die in a blazing house fire. She befriends her step sister (under falseness) and begins ...more
Jan 16, 2013 Travis rated it it was amazing
Second Child by John Saul is a horror novel about a girl (Melissa) who is abused by her mother and is protected by a 100 year old ghost which lives in the house. Melissa's half sister Teri comes to live with the family because her mother and stepfather were killed in a fire which it turns out Teri started intentionally so that she could live with her rich father. There are two good examples of motifs in this book which are Melissa's pearls that her father gave her and The straps which Melissa's ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Cleverly rated it it was amazing
Who: Teri, a teenager who is the only survivor in a house fire. Melissa, Teri's half-sister, who is punished almost every night by being chained to the bed. The ghost who wants revenge for a 100-year-old crime that was committed.

What: Melissa has been sleepwalking for as far back as she can remember. The ghost, however, protects her at night, when her mother abuses her. In return for this protection, the ghost of this poor servant girl from 100 years ago starts to do the unthinkable. Again.

Aurora Dimitre
Jul 31, 2013 Aurora Dimitre rated it really liked it
I went into this book knowing almost absolutely nothing and it seriously blew my mind.

It would be almost impossible to explain it without spoiling anything - short story, Teri MacIver's parents die in a fire and she's sent to live with her real father in a huge house in a nice little Maine retreat, where she lives with her stepmother and halfsister. There's a ghost, some child abuse, and a lot of death that I probably should have expected but still took me by surprise.

I really liked this book. I
May 18, 2015 Natasha rated it really liked it
Haven't been this upset/angry while reading a book since "A Child Named 'It'" and while thankfully the book ended well I wish more justice (and bloodshed) was served
Lindsie Gatto
May 15, 2015 Lindsie Gatto rated it really liked it
This book was chilling. In fact, I would say it is one of John Saul's best books. The book grabbed readers from page 1. From there on out its like you become glued to the pages.

The Characters

Phyllis is an overbearing mother who keeps a tight and dangerous grip on her daughter, Charles is the type of father that all children crave yet, he allows his wife to damage his daughter almost beyond recognition, Teri is the evil stepdaughter that reminds me of R.L Stine's character back in the day, and
Susan Mackie powers
Apr 03, 2015 Susan Mackie powers rated it really liked it
As a long time reader of John Saul, I was eager to read Second Child, one of his older novels I found in an antique shop. I was hoping for a creepy read,and this novel did not disappoint. The characters were interesting, the story flowed quickly, and there were plenty of scary moments.

Thirteen year old Melissa found her already confusing world turned upside down by the arrival of her father's first born daughter Teri, whose mother and stepfather were killed in a house fire. Teri's mother and Mel
Apr 01, 2015 L.L. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: w-pracy
Pomysł - jest super. Książka niby wciąga i jest ciekawa... ale no kurcze jakby to powiedzieć... między Saulem a Kingiem jest taka różnica, że Saul jak pisze o realnych rzeczach, to brzmi to nierealnie, a King może pisać o nierealnych i brzmi realnie :P (no oczywiście oceniam po tej jednej książce no ale...)
Od początku do końca w całej historii coś nie gra - jak dla mnie nic nie jest realne, ani motywy Teri, ani całe to parcie na należenie do jakiejś wyższej klasy matki Melissy...
A koniec to już
Dec 02, 2015 MissLoveReadingBooks rated it it was amazing
I don't know about everybody else's bad reviews but to me this book was so good I found myself picking it right up again and again as soon as I got off work. It reminds me of the movie Bitter Blood. The movie had the same plot to it: 2 girls; one shy the other outgoing, a fire, jealousy, mean/abusive parents and a who done it plot. Teri is Melissa's half sister who grew up poor, Melissa is Teri`s half sister who grew up rich. They both share the same father. Teri thinks she deserves Melissa's li ...more
Rose Heredia
Sep 14, 2014 Rose Heredia rated it liked it
When I was in JHS, I read books that weren't always for my demographic. I discovered John Saul because I think my brother had this book on his shelf (or maybe I took this out of the library?). The first time I read this book, all the twists made me love it and soon after, I read every John Saul book there was. Then because I was reading everything by him, his books became predictable. This book, I re-read and realized, "Ah, that's why I stopped reading his books." Even if the endings weren't pre ...more
Jul 23, 2009 Lauren rated it liked it
I was completely creeped out by this book! It has been years since I read it but I can still remember not wanting to turn out the lights! Great fun! Spooky read!
Jessica VanDodewaard
I liked it up until the ending. I felt the way the author chose to finish the book was a cop out and he chose the easiest way to tie up the loose ends.
Mar 17, 2009 Dani rated it really liked it
Oh my god, all I remember about this book (I read it when I was 11), was that it SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME!!!
Kim Smiley
Apr 21, 2009 Kim Smiley rated it really liked it
Good book, a real page-turner. This is one of John Saul's best. I can see it being a movie.
Jul 05, 2015 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The one thing I hated was how unbelievably stupid the father was.
Dec 18, 2013 kami rated it liked it
Spooky, but the ending felt a bit rushed.
Sep 10, 2012 Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge-2012
These books are getting a bit repetitive.
Jarod Silva
Aug 03, 2015 Jarod Silva rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
So, now that I have the time, I can give John Saul's "Second Child" a proper review for you all.
The novel starts off fast paced, and pretty gory as well, but strikes you as unbelievable because of the way "Teri" (one of the main characters) is acting.
Because of this, I found the first 40 or 50 pages kind of cheesy.
But, after continuing to read, I was drawn in by her and the other characters. The main being her half sister Melissa.
Melissa is an odd girl who has an imaginary friend named D'Arcy.
Feb 07, 2015 Miranda rated it it was amazing
I have to say, I think Second Child may be one of my favourite Saul novels.

Every summer, thirteen-year-old Melissa and her parents move out to their home in Secret Cove. Melissa, however, would prefer to stay in New York; her father has to spend much of the week there, anyway, and her mother... well, Melissa doesn't have the best relationship with her mother. But this year, Melissa's half-sister will be moving in with them. Maybe Teri can help keep Melissa's mother's anger at bay; and maybe she
Jake Jones
Jan 14, 2011 Jake Jones rated it really liked it
John Saul keeps up his creepy line of books with this one called 'Second Child'. In it, a girl Teri kills her own mother and step-dad by setting a fire in her home, so she can go live with her rich dad, step-mom and half sister Mellisa in the infamous Secret Cove Club. Teri has always wanted to live in the riches of Secret Cove Club lifestyle and decides that she wants it all to herself. She tries to do this by making people think that her sister Melissa is crazy and getting rid of her. Mellisa ...more
Aug 10, 2015 BookishPaulaMalik rated it really liked it
I love this book, it's suspense and thrilling at the same time. Reading this book, I can feel Melissa's struggle in her family, she's not that accepted b y her half sister and her mother, I am very much angry at her mother while reading this, and I love his father for being such a good Dad for her. I recommend this for everyone who likes suspense, thrilling, supernatural, horror genres :)
Jovan Radnic
Dec 12, 2015 Jovan Radnic rated it liked it
It's an okay book but if I were to recommend someone a horror book, this wouldn't be it. Just calling this a horror is an overstatement. This is more of a mystery-drama rather than horror.

I like how John Saul portrayed his characters in this book. It's like every motive of theirs is deep and hidden beneath the surface which adds some spice to the book.
Aug 09, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it
I'd forgotten how much fun a John Saul novel could be...and "The Second Child" was a great reminder!

Not a horror novel, exactly. More along the line of mystery/suspense/thriller...with a plot revolving around a 13 year old girl, her half sister, a wicked mother and a doting father. Saul takes us to Secret Cove, Maine~a small, exclusive, wealthy village full of affluent parents and their spoiled children. Melissa Holloway hasn't ever quite fit in but her half sister Teri, who moves in after a hor
sharon davis
Sep 16, 2015 sharon davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another john Saul must read

A mystery with a little ghost story, this book has both. John Saul is one of my favorite writers and he nailed it again. While reading I could picture the houses, the beach, and the characters in this book. Another well written, page turning, can't put down book. Loved It!!!
Lynn Orser
Oct 11, 2015 Lynn Orser rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Wow talk about keeping the reader in suspense! Great book by a great author of horror. Seems all to real to life in today's world. Trouble is most evil people do not suffer the consequences of they action. That's what makes the John Saul's books good, because the evil people finally get what's coming to them.
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John Saul was born in Pasadena, California on February 25, 1942, and grew up in Whittier where he graduated from Whittier High School in 1959. He attended several colleges—Antioch, in Ohio, Cerritos, in Norwalk, California, Montana State University and San Francisco State College, variously majoring in anthropology, liberal arts, and theater, but never obtaining a degree.
After leaving college, he
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