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Second Child

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  6,466 Ratings  ·  171 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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Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 03, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story about Teri, who burnt down the house that she lived in, killing her mother and her stepfather. With the death of her mother, Teri is force to move to Secret Cove, with her father and his wife. Charles and Phyllis already have one daughter Melissa. Melissa is always being abused by her mother and can never do anything right. On the other hand, Teri is daughter that she always dreamed of having. Melissa has been sleepwalking for as long as she can remember. Her evil mother sometime ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The one thing I hated was how unbelievably stupid the father was.
Den Alessandra
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I. Love. It.

My favorite characters are D'Arcy and Melissa! What I like are the spooky chapters! The book is now my fave book of all the horrifying books! The important thing I learned about is be nice and be good to people and animals and never harm/murder them! Because you'll never know if they have a ghost friend who will make you pay for every wrong thing you ever done! And you'll suffer in hell just like mean Teri! Melissa has no mean bone in her body so be like Melissa!

Thank you John for wr
Denise Dickerson
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Let me start by saying, it scares the crap out of me to think there are actually people like this walking around. EVIL. I HATED a couple of these characters. H.A.T.E.D.! I got so frustrated reading this book; somebody besides me HAD to see what was going on! What the heck, dad!? Maybe that's why this took me so long to get through it.
That being said, and without dropping any spoilers, I’ll just say I was happy to see how it ended, although this was another one of those that seemed to very quickl
Lindsie Gatto
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
When 15-year old Teri’s parents die in a house fire, Teri is the only one to get out. She is collected by her biological father to go live across the country with him, his wife and their 13-year old daughter, Melissa. Melissa is considered by some to be a bit… strange. But she has good reason. (The back of the book doesn’t say much, so I don’t want to give too much away.) They are rich, but Melissa and her mother (Phyllis) don’t really fit in, though Phyllis certainly tries.

This was really good
Aurora Dimitre
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.

Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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!!!
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it
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!
Dec 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Spooky, but the ending felt a bit rushed.
Jessica Montgomery
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Kim Smiley
Apr 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good book, a real page-turner. This is one of John Saul's best. I can see it being a movie.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge-2012
These books are getting a bit repetitive.
Katelyn Miller
May 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was recommended to me by someone in a Facebook group for fans of a horror podcast, so I figured it'd be pretty creepy. I also figured it would be written for adults. I can't really say conclusively that it fulfilled either of those expectations. In the book's favor, reading it was just like watching a late 80's/early 90's horror movie. Like, I could vividly picture it in my head, down to the film quality. And it certainly had some spooky aspects! I think that's what was most frustrating for ...more
Shannon Todd
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this book on the book shelf in my parent's basement when I was about 13 or so. My mum had read it at some point. I was moving on from the R.L. Stein's Fear Street books (I freaking loved those) and thought this book sounded scary. And boy was it ever! It scared the pants right off me! I must have read it 3 or 4 times after that first time as a teenager. Just the other day I found it sitting on my own basement bookshelf.... It's nostalgic and still a little creepy even after all these yea ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It had been fun doing the #40wordreview , which makes you get your point across concisely, so I decided I'm going to try to do all of my reviews this way.
Terri is taken from the lap of luxury at a young age due to her parents' divorce. Now she's back, but her half-sister had everything Teri expected, her room, attention, her father's love. What's a girl to do?
My vote? 4.5/5 stars. Excellent book to get to know John Saul if you don't already.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5 Stars ****

Second Child by John Saul is a fantasic horrific read that every horror fan would love.

It keeps you awake at night because it is so intense. You forget the time because you got sucked into the characters and the story. You feel mixed emotions towards multiple characters.
Some of them you really want to slap them in their faces. And some of them you feel so sorry for, you wan to give them a hug.

I did enjoyed this one really much I read through it like a train.

Rating: 8,8/10
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
There is nothing creepier than books where children are evil and creepy. I'll admit I was way off on guessing the direction this book was going to take and the route it would take to get there. Parts of it were hard to read because I couldn't wrap my brain around the violence being done by one who feigned such innocence. I enjoyed the ending although I wish the mom/stepmother had gotten what was coming to her but I guess that's what helped it end on what could be called a cliffhanger.
Kimber Porter
On no....

I'm jaded said the reader. But it's a good author, the book has such promise. Promises are meant to be broken. Isn't that the cliche' ? Wishing this was more than a formulaic storyline.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting read. Kept me interesting. The character of Melissa and Teri are beautifully created. The story does get predictable towards the end but over all a good book
Cathy Gudger
This is just my opinion but the subject matter was hard for me to get through. I skipped a lot of it.
I normally like to read Mr. Saul's books and will buy others....
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
as always john Saul delivered an amazing book. I didn't want to put it down.
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Play Book Tag: Second Child / John Saul. 4 stars 1 10 Oct 10, 2016 08:51PM  
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John Saul grew up in Whittier California 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 decided the best thing for a college dropout to
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