Lee Libro's Reviews > Shrouded Secrets

Shrouded Secrets by Joel T. McGrath
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's review
Jan 10, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed
Recommended for: Fans of Young Adult and Fantasy
Read from February 22 to March 11, 2011

I received a complimentary copy of Shrouded Secrets in exchange for a review and though it was about fourth in line on my "To Be Read" list, I picked it up one day to just take a peek. Well that peek turned into 100 pages, a wonderful preview of what was to come when it was up next on my list of books to review.

Shrouded Secrets is Joel T. McGrath's debut novel, a story that will immerse the reader in a world where an alternate reality can be accessed through hidden portals, but only if you are an Eruditian, or at least half Eruditian, like David and Danielle James. In many ways they are just like other teenagers living in San Diego, but they've inherited the legacy of their deceased father, one of the greatest Galinea, warriors of Eruditus who wield unearthly powers to fight against the evil "Shroud".

We first meet David and Danielle as typical teenagers dealing with the break-up of their family. Their step-father has left their mother; the family faces financial struggles; David is constantly bullied and Danielle falls a little too easily under the influence of the wrong peers. To relieve some of the family's stress, their grandfather invites the two teenagers to New Hampshire during the summer break and there they meet Appollos, a Galinea posing as Paul, their grandfather's paperboy. Their friendship with Paul introduces David to the existence of a world that isn't exactly as it seems. David's dreams take on a deeper reality and then one day while he and his sister get lost in the woods, they come across a railroad stationhouse strangely situated in the middle of nowhere. This house holds the key to connecting David and Danielle's world, Earth, with Eruditus, in the form of a mysterious kaleidoscope that David finds there, but they have yet to discover its use.

When David and Danielle return to San Diego for the school year, they have a new sense of themselves. Unaware of the powers of the kaleidoscope, David and Danielle still have issues to address. Both grow and become empowered when up against their adversaries in high school, always by taking the higher moral ground in confrontations. McGrath develops very real issues of teenagers by writing well-crafted dialogue. We can relate to David and Danielle on a very down-to-earth level. His succinct progression through what might otherwise appear to be a normal young adult story we soon discover quite skillfully paces us toward the development of their not-so-ordinary lives.

The two worlds of Earth and Eruditus function in different spatial and time realities, so the reader must wait before further action develops to advance the fight between the Galinea and the evil we begin to sense. McGrath intentionally intersperses the issues the two teenagers must confront on earth with the issues they deal with during their training visits to Eruditus. Though at times the pace may appear to meander, he always brings us full circle to the main theme, advancing the character's integrity and goodness even though it is darkly challenged. McGrath's interplay between good and evil, presented as relatable issues to teenagers on our earth plane and shrouded in the more esoteric issues of another invisible universe, he masters brilliantly in the form of the character Madison, the ultimate temptress to David's power and integrity. The tensions rise, the ante is upped and in the end we are hanging on to hope as an ugly battle is fought and the goodness of the entire earth is threatened by the Shroud. How does David overcome his temptations in the end? Will he succumb to the temptation of power or dig deep within himself to offer the ultimate solution to conquer the shroud? In the midst of ordinary teenage life in a world rife with struggle, political chaos, cultural conflict and pain is it possible to rise above? This is the question that McGrath so beautifully addresses to the young adult and for that alone he deserves the highest praise.

McGrath's story renews the struggle between good and evil. One might have thought this theme had been thoroughly routed in classic best-selling series such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Twilight, but Shrouded Secrets makes a strong bid at keeping company with these epics. It could be best described as Young Adult, but because it has all the makings of classic other-worldly adventure, I believe it would appeal to fans of science fiction as well. I highly recommend it and look forward to a possible sequel! On my book blog www.literary-magic.com I've given it 5 out of a possible 5 Magic Books.
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12/10/2014 marked as: to-read
01/10/2015 marked as: read

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