The Valley of Secrets
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The Valley of Secrets

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  729 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Stephen Lansbury is an orphan. He thinks he has no relatives at all -- until the day a letter arrives telling him that a distant uncle is dead. Suddenly Stephen finds himself the only heir to a great estate in the countryside. So Stephen sets off to claim his inheritance . . . but when he arrives, there is nothing to greet him at Lansbury Hall but a mystery.

The puzzle is...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Simon Pulse (first published 2003)
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Amanda Postma
This is one of my all time favorite books!

I bought a copy of it on my trip to Seattle. Within one day, my grandmother, who was on the trip with me, finished the book. The first chapter I didn't find interesting, so I put the book aside for a while. When I finally came around to reading it, and really got into the book, it was amazing! The facts about the Amazon in this book I absolutely loved, the gardens and forest around the house were absolutely beautiful to imagine, I loved every scene that...more
Lilian
I was initially drawn to the book because of the gorgeous cover. I also looked inside and liked the old-fashioned pen-and-ink illustrations. Seeing there was no reviews, I relied on the inside blurb claiming the book "returns readers to the art of true storytelling."

Unfortunately, halfway through the story, I still hadn't discovered what that art of storytelling was. I realized I had gone through half the book already and there was still no form or plot. It was mostly descriptions and repetitive...more
Anu
Sep 04, 2007 Anu rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one, dying people who want to speed up the process
Shelves: finished
What happened in this book? I can't tell. It had no plot, no character development and to add insult to injury, the prose is dull. I had to whip myself into finishing and only because I hate purchasing and then letting the book languish. After all, if I finish at least I have the pleasure of mocking it.

Ummm, Stephen has spots and inherits some property and there's some mystery surrounding it and weird animals (and you never quite figure out what they are) and in the end he has to stay on the pr...more
Patricia Uttaro
I wasn’t sure about this one because the blurb on the back didn’t say much about the story other than that it involved an orphaned boy who suddenly finds out that he’s the only beneficiary in a never-before-seen great-uncle’s will. But it takes place in Cornwall, which is, as any folklore lover knows, one of the most mysterious places on earth. We first meet Stephen Lansbury as he’s just finished a course in botany and is fretting over whether to return to the children’s home where he grew up or...more
Linden
The Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey tells the story of an orphaned boy, Stephen, who inherits an estate from a distant and unknown uncle. When he arrives he finds a mystery about the estate and its grounds as well as one about his uncle. Stephen teases out his answers by exploring the grounds and by reading his uncle's diary about his explorations in the rainforest.

I enjoyed the somewhat classical form of writing: descriptions that set the scene, and the premise of a protagonist who longs...more
Julia
Okay, don't listen to the bad reviews. To get to the climax of the story, you're going to have to read for a while, and don't give up. Around the last quarter of the book is when the secrets come out, and the mystery and awe appears. As the main character starts to read the journal of his uncle(?) (It's been a while since I read it) be starts discovering secrets about the old house, and what really happened in the jungle.

I think this was a truly captivating read, and you will think so too, if y...more
Rosa Carmela Isabel Gaurano
I've this book in the shelf for years and never really opened it til' now. It's probably because I've JUST run out of stuff to read very recently. It's a fairly easy read. There are a lot of chapters, but they're short. I'm usually a fast reader, but it took me a long time to finish this book because honestly, it didn't grasp me like most books would. The plot was a bit hard to understand, Although, while you read, you do see some of the puzzle pieces come together. It's slow-paced, and did not...more
Anthony Burt
Oh I so much loved the beginning of this gorgeously described novel. It had a fairytale, innocent and light quality that skipped along. But, that quality actually started to become very grating by around page 130 - there was just no confrontation, no real "darkness" and, importantly, the main character spent so much time on his own in the house he had no one to play off of and it became dull. Worse than that, it started turning into a sappy version of a Famous Five novel, but without much advent...more
Kim
This is one of my all-time favourite books, I first came across it while on holiday and the author was doing a book signing, I decided to buy a copy and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This book is set in the countryside of Cornwall, it describes the area perfectly and brings back my own memories of when I used to go there. I would definitely recommend this book however it does require some persistence to get to the interesting parts but the earlier information is necessary to...more
Siina
Hmm, this book was problematic, since the idea was great but the realization didn't work out. What I loved about this book though were Theo's letters as well as the depictions of the Indians, trees and other peculiarities of the Amazon jungle.

The writing in itself bothered me for Hussey starts almost all of the sentences with "Stephen did this and Stephen did that". I wished Hussey would've used more other types of story telling, since tautology is annoying. I get the "save the rainforests etc."...more
Home Ice-bloxx
Was ich gut fand
1. Was mir schon nach dem ersten Absatz aufgefallen ist: Die Schreibweise! Charmian Hussey beschreibt Detailgenau und wunderschön, die Wortwahl ist großartig und, obwohl “Das Tal der Geheimnisse” Charmian Husseys einziges Buch ist, sehr profimäßig.

2. In dem Buch findet Stephen ja das Tagebuch seines Onkels Theodore, und die Ausschnitte daraus helfen einem dabei, die Zusammenhänge zu verstehen. Die Autorin flickt also einen weiteren Text in das Buch ein, das macht es spannend und...more
Célia
Este livro conta é a história de um jovem órfão que, de um momento para o outro, se torna herdeiro de uma enorme e misteriosa propriedade na Cornualha. Assim que Stephen chega ao local, depressa se apercebe que este não é exactamente aquilo que esperava, e que a casa e o terreno que a rodeia guardam segredos que ele se esforçará para desvendar.

É um livro com uma grande componente ambiental. A natureza, tanto na vertente da fauna como da flora, são bastante exploradas, especialmente nos relatos q...more
Jacey
According to the quotes on the cover the Sunday Telegraph considers this 'a masterpiece', The Guardian calls it a 'true children's classic; and Time Out sings its praises as 'a paean to the powers of storytelling'... but I'm not convinced. It's description-heavy (450 pages including bibliographies) and story light. In fact – it's not really a story, or at least, not much of one.

Orphan discovers he has inherited a strange old country estate in Cornwall from a great uncle he didn't know he had. Go...more
Gabrielle
This book blends many topics and themes that are my favorites: a mystery involving a grand, old house; the natural world, and a bit of historical fiction; England; and beautiful chapter illustrations created in a style of sketching that has always fascinated me. Stories about orphans always pull me in, because from the start I feel empathy for the protagonist, and this book was no different. Now, the reasons why I only gave it three stars: the editing and the "critters". The book's first two cha...more
Kami
This book isn't at all what I thought it would be, but, I was pleasantly surprised! In this book, a boy named Stephen Lansbury gets a letter saying that he is to inherit an estate called Lansbury Hall. The thing is, Stephen thought that he was an orphan, that he had no family at all. He soon finds out that he was wrong, that he had family, a great uncle named Theodore Lansbury, but he had recently passed away. As soon as possible Stephen is on his way to Lansbury Hall. When he arrives, he doesn'...more
Jackie
The Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey is a secret treasure of fascinating facts about the Amazon set within a novel about a teenage boy who embarks on a mysterious journey to Cornwall, England. Teenager Stephen Lansbury has lived his whole life in an orphanage believing that he had no family to speak of. One day, out of the blue, an odd letter arrives for him. The letter requests that he meet with lawyer, Albert Postlethwaite. To Stephen's amazement, he is informed that he has inherited a gra...more
ian
I've been seeing this book in the bookstore for ages; kept reading the blurb and getting intrigued. I finally got a copy. I was expecting something totally different from what it turned out to be.

I agree with the other reviews that call it preachy -- it was very preachy, and I got turned off a number of times. I stuck with it because I didn't want to feel that I wasted my money!

Some parts I enjoyed; Some are light and funny and entertaining.

But a lot of parts I had trouble with -- especially c...more
Alison
Dec 10, 2008 Alison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like plants
The valley of secrets is about an orphan named Stephen who finds out that he has a distant uncle who Left him a great estate. Once he moves in he starts to notice that there is something strange going on. Things will move to different places, things will go missing, and he seems to always feel like someone is following him

Besides that mystery, Stephen finds his uncle's journal that talk about his trip to the Amazon. His uncle is a scientist who studies insects and plants. You learn a lot about p...more
Sally McRogerson
This was our book of the month at reading group and as I have failed to read the last three I felt obliged to wade through this one. It's aimed at older children I'm guessing, which isn't a disadvantage as far as I'm concerned. I've avidly read all the Harry Potters, Northern Lights trilogy, etc so am not averse to reading kids books. In lots of ways they suit me better.

The book has sparked me into writing even more letters on behalf of Survival International, which is kinda surprising as it's...more
Mischa
It goes against my nature to stop reading a book I started-- especially one I was seduced by with such a pretty cover and a combination of factors that are usually catnip to me (orphans, mysteries, big old houses in the English countryside) but the leaden prose is getting me down down down and with so many of thousands of books in the world to read still, I'm quashing the last of my glimmering hope that this will suddenly turn around and not be so boring and moving on. I gave it 136 pages of opp...more
Jen
I'm giving this 4 stars because I thought the plot and concept was really creative. Sometimes that is enough for me. I was, however, disappointed in the ending in that it seemed very rushed. The resolution was rushed, the important information at the end seemed preachy rather than informative and I was so busy trying to process all the gobs of information at the end that the epilogue was sort of lost on me. Urg. I felt like I had been led through this amazing adventure through lush jungles and o...more
Dayna Smith
Stephen Lansbury never knew his parents. So he is surprised when he receives a letter saying he has inherited a large estate from his great-uncle Theodore. Upon arriving at Lansbury Hall, two things immediately strike Stephen: the exotic plant life that seems to bloom everywhere, and the meticulous upkeep of the old manor. When Stephen finds the water-stained journals of his uncle’s youthful travels up the Amazon River, the unusual greenery suddenly makes sense. But who (or what!) is maintaining...more
Kirsti
You know what? Most of the time I don't need over the top action to keep me reading a story. Simple acts like making lunch and swimming got me through the Famous Five books, it was that same serene normality that hooked me here. I liked the slow pace and gentle story. I enjoyed the diary entries. Sometimes the wording was so incredibly beautiful I had to read the sentences over to experience them again.

I didn't always like the way Stephen jumped to conclusions, but I did enjoy the majority of t...more
Holly Nisbet
This book is really well written, I could picture the places it described and could relate to the characters. I would advise anyone who is a nature lover or dedicated bookworm to read this as it is rather lengthy!
Julia
This book started out so promising! I loved the characters and thought the writing style sounded a lot like Tolkien. But then the author spent like 5 chapters describing plants and I lost all interest. It's a shame, could have been a really cute book!
Lisa
OK, I stayed reasonably interested until nearly the end. But the plot involves a mystery, and once it is solved the unlikely details distract rather than add to the story. And solving the mystery is not the end of the book -- there is an additional hurdle for the hero, and the solution to this problem is just thrown in like the author ran out of ideas.

The overall story is not very believable, the characters are a little wooden (the most fully-developed one is dead at the beginning of the book!)...more
Kaarin
The premise was interesting, but the delivery was preachy and the pacing of the story was uneven. The preachiness of it (re: saving the Amazon jungle) yanked me out of the story frequently. I don't have a problem with the message, really, but the story would frequently come to a grinding halt while the narrator, a character, or a character's journal expounds on the subject for a while. It got annoying and felt very much like the story was a flimsy excuse for the author to get on a soapbox about...more
Kelsey Kelley
I loved this book. I read it some many times when I was younger and to this day I can remember every detail. The imagery is amazing in this book.
Amai
Good heavens! I hadn't exactly forgotten about this book, but somehow just pushed it aside. Still, I remember almost everything about it – mainly because there's not much to remember. This book read as a masturbatory description of how cool old-fashioned things and the countryside are. The "mystery" was stale and stupid. This book didn't have any content or plot to speak of.

I remember hating it with all my heart back then and I doubt that my opinion would have changed ever since. Might give it a...more
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Born in London in 1939, Charmian Hussey's early years were shaped by the events of the war. A youthfull passion for Speech and Drama (her greatest inspiration was Shakespeare) led on to a lifetime interest in both the written and spoken word.

She began her career modelling clothes for top couture and fashion houses. Later she studied at the University of London, Institute of Archaeology. She worked...more
More about Charmian Hussey...
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“People who expect too much are always disappointed. You would do well to remember that, my boy.” 10 likes
“Just take things as they come. And, as you go though life, find as much good as you possible can. But never expect too much from life.” 5 likes
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