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

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  2,387 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Imagine David Copperfield in the world of Artemis Fowl . . . that's what we thought when we first read this next gripping novel, brought to us by our friends at Macmillan UK. And indeed, Eoin Colfer found something very much to like in this first novel when he said, "the story grabs at the reader with hooked talons. Anyone looking for the next big thing has come to the rig...more
Audio CD, 6 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Recorded Books (first published 2007)
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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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
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
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
Allison Dandrea
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I just had to know what kinds of secrets were in The Black Books of Secrets. The Book practically opened up in front of me and dared me to read it. Fiona Higgins’s first novel is elegantly worded despite the lack of cleanliness in this gothic tale. A story of a mysterious man an this apprentice who brings life into a lifeless town full of people who live in fear and torment.

The Black Book of Secrets didn’t begin like most novels- the first page literally took my...more
c.o.lleen ± (... never stop fighting) ±
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...more
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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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?
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
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
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
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...more
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...more
Flora Bateman
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
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
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
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
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
Marcia Hein
F E Higgins is a gifted Irish writer of young adult books. In this Dickensian-like world.a pawnbroker, Joe Zabadou, trades secrets for cash. Ludlow, his assistant, records the secrets in the black book and the villagers each leave with cash and a lighter conscience. It's just creepy and mysterious enough to grab you from the first chapter and young adult readers will love it, too.
I really enjoyed this one. To me the concept was brilliant. I know some of the professional reviews say that the plot is skimpy and doesn't hold together, but I disagree. I was completely caught up in this story.
Daniel Lucas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This little book was charming in some ways, but a bit less in others. Things which worked in its favour were the gothic setting, the often grotesque and almost Tim Burton-ish characters and the light irony and satire which pervade the entire text. I especially enjoyed reading about Horace Cleaver the Butcher, who filled me both with smiles and empathy, for he is quite the pitiful character (although this seems to change at the end of the novel, but I won’t spoil anything).

If I only gave this te...more
Richie Partington
28 August 2007 THE BLACK BOOK OF SECRETS by F.E. Higgins, Feiwel and Friends, October 2007, ISBN: 0-312-36844-5

"When I opened my eyes I knew that nothing in my miserable life prior to that moment could possibly be as bad as what was about to happen. I was lying on the cold earthen floor of a basement room lit by a single candle, no more than an hour's burning left. Instruments of a medical nature hung from hooks in the beams. Dark stains on the floor suggested blood. But it was the chair against...more
Violet Crush
I honestly did not expect much from this book. It was just something I found in a sale at dirt cheap price. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Black Book of Secrets is a very unusual book. Ludlow Fitch, a 16-year-old boy, runs away from his cruel parents and by chance reaches a village called Pagus Parvus in the dead of the night. There he meets a man called Joe Zabbidou who has come out of nowhere to live in the village and has a secret. He is a pawnbroker by day and a trader of secrets by nig...more
★ Jess
I got THE BONE MAGICIAN for Christmas, and finished reading it a few weeks ago.
I absolutely adored it. Clever, Mysterious, wonderful characters, great plot, creepy.
It was then that I heard THE BLACK BOOK OF SECRETS, was much better. Reviews wrote on The Bone Magician: "Good, but not as excellent as Black Book of Secrets" and "Dosent quite live up to Black Book of Secrets high standard".
So naturally, falling in love with the Bone Magician, i looked forward, and had hugely high expectations for...more
4.5 stars

Another book I picked up on my trip to the Scholastic warehouse to find holiday gifts for my students. This one's content is definitely much too dark for me to be willing to give it to one of my students, but I myself loved it!

I loved the atmosphere, and delighted in the detailed and vivid descriptions of the village of Pagus Parvus and its inhabitants. Joe is one of the more fascinating and endearing characters I've come across recently, and I loved that we got to understand him a litt...more
Rain Misoa
Mar 01, 2011 Rain Misoa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Younger children
Recommended to Rain by: Me XD
What can one say about this book? Well, let us start from the beginning. F.E. Higgins’ book, The Black Book of Secrets, takes place in two distinct locations—one being a gruesome city literally called the City (I wonder where Higgins found such a creative name for her town) and a smaller, more collective town called Pagus Parvus. The two cities are polar opposites in which one brings forth chaos and destruction, whilst the other takes a more subtle approach… though still evil incarnate.

Enter Lu...more
*Queen Diva*
The title of this book (and the cover of a different edition of the book) caught my attention so I checked it out from the library. When I started reading it, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it...but it turns out, I really enjoyed it!

What I really liked about this book is that it was unpredictable. There were two ways the story could go and I wasn't sure which direction it would eventually go in. The reader is much like Ludlow when it comes to Joe, you really like him, but you're not sure i...more
The Rusty Key
Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for: Both boys and girls, ages 10 to 13. Though not particularly scary, there is a certain level of darkness to the story, as well as a degree of sophistication, that makes it better suited for older readers.

One Word Summary: Dickensian.

If we gave more than just one word in our One Word Summaries, I might call this work, “A Pretty Solid Start”. Though enjoyable in many respects, it’s difficult to imagine a kid calling this their favori...more
Eric Dunn
This book was an interesting read to say the least. At the beginning of the book I had no idea what a "secret pawnbroker" was. And, to be honest, most of the way through the book I still didn't know. This book keeps you going until the end because you just have to find out what's going on. I enjoyed this quick read. It's geared towards middle school kids I would say.

Higgins does a great job with his character and plot development. The only criticism I would have is that there were a few parts wh...more
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Would you like to read a sequel to this? 6 14 Mar 29, 2012 02:56PM  
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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...
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) A Tangle of Traitors (The Phenomenals, #1) Le livre noir des secrets (Tales from the sinister city #1)

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