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Second Child

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  4,960 ratings  ·  127 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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The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingSalem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
182nd out of 1,308 books — 4,036 voters
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Best John Saul Books
12th out of 34 books — 68 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Review to Follow!
Susan Mackie powers
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
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
Rose Heredia
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
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.
I knew Mr. Saul was going to find it necessary to kill the dog. I almost stopped reading once I figured that out. Sure enough... At least it fit in with the plot, unlike the time Stephen King unnecessarily killed a cat and I quit reading his stuff for years.

I found the characters kind of flat and predictable. The ending was abrupt, and not very believable. I like what happened to Phyllis, Charles, and Melissa, but Terri? Hmmm. She deserved some public shame and humiliation for her deeds.

On the o
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
Good book, a real page-turner. This is one of John Saul's best. I can see it being a movie.
The one thing I hated was how unbelievably stupid the father was.
Spooky, but the ending felt a bit rushed.
These books are getting a bit repetitive.
Jarod Silva
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.
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
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
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 :)
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
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!!!
Sandra Knapp
Thoroughly enjoyable

An emotionally and physically abused daughter seeks refuge in sleep, calling an imaginary friend to protect her.. But is the imaginary friend a true figment of her tortured body and mind, or is she actually real?

A truly delightful "ghost" story, well written and so easy to read. I love John Saul's stories. Never a dull moment, just pure entertainment from first page to last.
Kristin Gaske
You can feel precisely what the main character is going through, even if you haven't been there yourself. It's knowing that this kind of anger/evil exists in the world, that makes us empathize with others, coming to an understanding of why certain people do what they do.
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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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