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The Secret Country

(Eidolon #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Ben wants a Mongolian Fighting Fish more than anything. But when he goes to Mr. Dodds's Pet Emporium with his hard-earned savings, he buys a cat instead. He doesn't have a choice, really. The cat insists.

Iggy (as the tabby likes to be called) has been kidnapped from his home, a parallel world known as the Secret Country. And as the two soon discover, Iggy is not the only
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published 2005)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  445 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was first printed in 2005, my copy 2006. Ok, so my original review on this got lost in time and space. So from memory, I felt that this was a lovely, quick read at 247 pages. Well worth the money to buy cheap on Amazon or cheaper in a charity shop. Nice plot and some fun ideas for the characters as well as the situations. This book was, like so many I see, let down by too fast an ending. This was I guess this was supposed to create a lead into the next volume, but for me, it was far to ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Ben's plans to get himself a pair of Mongolian Fighting Fish only last as long as it takes him to save up the money. At the pet store, a cat insists on being taken home instead---and since Ben has never heard a talking cat, he gives in. Little did he suspect he had encountered the fringes of something much bigger. Another world exists alongside our own. A world of magic. A world in trouble. A world that needs Ben to help it . . .

This was a bit too young and straightforward for my tastes, but it
Nov 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I only only rated this book 1 star because it was a super boring book it was fantasy and I hate fantasy
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It will give you an eye for adventure
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Has been saving up to get a fighting fish but one evening a pet cat clings onto bens jumper and begs him to be bought I found it very boring at the start then it got really good 😊
Nov 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not as fun as the other books I've read but it was ok I rate this a 1 it didn't get me into the book scenes kept on changing very quick
Olivia Yoxall
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
The secret country . if I wanted a hard read I would not recommend reading this . It isn't great but it was still packed with fun and entertainment.
Anne Holly
On a scale from awful to excellent, this book was a meh, I think. The writing/editing seems fine, but everything feels fairly retreaded. Part of the post-Harry Potter boom of books featuring someone who suddenly discovers "Hey! I'm special, after all!" and then must save the world, etc, etc. A fair amount of references to other fantasy classics throughout. I read it through, quite quickly, and I think it will be suitable to read aloud to my son if he ever asks, but, though the book tried hard to ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for

All Ben Arnold wants in life are Mongolian Fighting Fish. The day he walks into Mr. Dodds's Pet Emporium with enough money to buy them should be the best day of his life. Except that he walks out with a cat. It's not really his fault. After all, the cat made him do it.

Ignatius Sorvo Coromandel, Iggy for short, also known as the Wanderer, has quite a story for Ben. He is from another world, a world called Eidolon. A world full of exotic, mythical,
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I’m biased. The moment I read that there’s a talking cat, me being a cat lover, immediately picked this book up. Iggy also happens to be a wonderful character to read so that was an instant bonus.

This was a great fantasy read, and I enjoyed the adventure Ben went through. There was plenty of fantastical magic and action to keep the reader engaged, and the characters are well written and memorable. The pace is great and is steady and although the story might not be that original, and the plot it
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile
maybe i’m getting jaded from reading books in which the character is an everyday joe/jane who learns that he/she is, in fact, someone special. in this series, ben goes to a pet store to buy some “mongolian fighting fish” he’s been saving for and instead finds himself purchasing a talking cat. and that’s just the beginning. in short order, he also rescues a wood sprite and a selkie then they find the magical portal to eidolon–the secret country. i’ve heard so much about this series–keep reading a ...more
Jono Mcdermott
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book quite simply inspired me to become a writer.

This is the perfect tale for children and adults alike, with magic, comedy and ingenious creations.

Ben is an ordinary boy—and far more believably so than in many other popular fictions—who discovers an immense, magical secret, and a whole world of wonders. It's written with a careful style, so easy to read and yet poetic if you stop and take notice. Unlike the majority of magical otherworld novels, Johnson steers away from the brilliant-but-o
Mizzio Batista
A series with potential (that will, hopefully, be seen in upcoming books!)

The plot is relevant and interesting, the characters are well fleshed out, the world-building is great; this is a good story. There is a lot of ways this tale could go.

It also a deals with a topic that is close to me; Animal trafficking and abuse. All be it, not in great detail, but, for a kids book, it does it justice.

But, there is something about it that doesn't suck the reader in. The story is rushed at times, and the a
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is very cute! I don't read as many MG novels anymore as YA, but this one had a good plot and characters, and painted a well-detailed, enjoyable picture both of an English town and the secret magical world it connects to. The boy Ben is a great character, both when he's saving to buy the Mongolian fighting fish, when a cat in the pet store starts speaking to him, when he has to explain why he showed up at home with no new fish pets, when he's dealing with his horrible relatives, and when he' ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: older elementary kids and above
Fun book. I didn't think I could read it when I found that a talking cat took a major role in the story. However, I really wanted to find out what came next. It's for kids and it has several words like "minion", that are great for increasing a child's vocabulary. I read it to approve it for my 7 yr old who reads on a higher level than his grade and felt the content was intriguing and not too violent for him. He loved it and read the second book. I have a different opinon of that one...
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
While the story was engaging enough (albeit a little unoriginal), this lost stars mostly because the author appears to be showing off with her unnecessary use of vocabulary that would be difficult for the target audience of the book.

The characters had tongue-twister names too which made it annoying to read out aloud, which we did for our child. We ended up shortening everything and having to re-adjust vocab to suit.

Campbell Scollo
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
When Ben goes to buy the fish that he's been saving up for he ends up walking out the pet store with a cat… who just happens to call its self the wanderer but "you can call me iggy" he proclaims to ben because of course all things talk.
Soon after rescuing iggy from the pet store he discovers all is not what it seems with another world living right next door
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I know it had the whole boy finds he's royalty theme to it but it seemed to be very creative. The writing wasn't the world's greatest but it wasn't sucky. I did love the fact that it wasn't the sterotypical fantasy book and some of the themes you could tell took time to think out. I can't wait to read more of this series.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
A good fantasy about a young boy, a talking cat, and a parallel world of magic. It's somewhat traditional (there are many other gateway fantasy books like it), but Johnson is a good "world-builder," and her story is exciting. I particularly liked the evil character portrayed as the Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis.
Rebecca Stonehill
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was about a talking cat with a nickname Iggy and a boy called Ben. He's the boy who helps Iggy get back into Eidolon, the other world. They have to go to a park then there's a tall stone with the word 'Eidolon' and they had to go round the side and jump into the hole. There's an evil person in it as well called Dodman! This was a good book.

(Review my Maya, age 8, Rebecca's daughter)
Rue Baldry
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
There's nothing special about this book, but there's nothing wrong with it either. If your 8 year-old likes stories which mix realism and fantasy then they will probably enjoy this one. They'd probably enjoy Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl or Skullduggery Pleasant more, though. It's better than The Box of Delights or Narnia, though.
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
I expected a lot from this author, since they are a Tolkien expert and one of J.K.Rowling's editors, but I was disappointed. The plot is predictable and slow, the characters one-dimensional, and the writing nothing special. I think if I were 10 years old, I would enjoy this book, but you know what they say.... "A children's book that is only enjoyed by children is not a good children's book."
King Haddock
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, books-i-own
This was very much a typical fantasy novel, one that failed to capture my imagination because it seemed so typical. The characters and dialogue seemed very flat, the landscape unextraordinary - or at least so in its description.

I have not read any of the other books in the Eidolon Chronicles.
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it
a talking cat begins Ben's adventure into an alternate world that connects to his world. Ben encounters magical creatures in the real world. He discovers that his mother come from the world of magic.
Melissa Landers
Dec 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
Again with the talking animals... Ick.

There's only two exceptions to the whole "books with talking animals suck" proposition: The Art of Racing in the Rain (although Enzo really doesn't talk, it comes from his POV, so basically, same difference) and children's books.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a great book. Unfortunately, it didn't have enough audience to make it's sequel equally available. I really liked the book, was ready for book two and was completely flabbergasted when it never hit my local bookstore shelves.
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Amazing in the highest way. Food for the passionate reader.
It shows that we all have to our job to help the world.
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
+ kids, pets, magical country, villain uncle
+ illustrations

- a little too predictable (basically its for kids till age 13)

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aka Jude Fisher, Gabriel King (with M. John Harrison)

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer.

She was responsible for publishing the works of J R R Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. Under the pseudonym o

Other books in the series

Eidolon (3 books)
  • The Shadow World (The Eidolon Chronicles)
  • El Fuego Del Dragon (Eidolon, #3)