The Secret of the Treasure Keepers by A.M. Howell
Published By: Usborne
Released: 31st March 2022
Rating: 4 ★
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Ruth has been whisked off to the lonely Rook Farm to investigate the discovery of long-buried treasure with her mother. But at the farmhouse, she finds secrets lurk around every corner. Joe, the farmer’s son, is hiding something about the treasure, while land girl Audrey watches their every move.
But before Ruth can find out more, the treasure is stolen… With a storm coming, Ruth must race to uncover the secrets of the treasure keepers before all of their lives are changed forever.
Trigger Warnings: Divorce, war, PTSD, parental death.
It’s February 1948 and Ruth and her mum are at the isolated Rook Farm to explore and look into the discovery of some treasure, buried for many years. Whilst at the farmhouse, Ruth discovers that secrecy lurks in every inch of the house. Joe, the farmer’s son is being very secretive about the found treasure, and Audrey, the land girl follows their every move. When the treasure is stolen, Ruth must act fast to uncover the mystery behind the theft and the habitants of the farm, before lives are changed drastically.
I was never a big fan of historical middle grade, that was until I came across books by A.M. Howell. After reading her first release The Garden of Lost Secrets, a new love for the genre was formed, and I’ve since devoured all of her releases, adoring everyone. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out she was releasing a fourth book – The Secret of the Treasure Keepers. I was aching to dive into this one and see what it had in store for me, and well I wasn’t disheartened at all.
We follow 12 year old Ruth, as both she and her mother are adjusting to life in post-war London. Her parents are also getting divorced, leaving Ruth worried about where she’s going to live, especially as times are hard for herself and her mother, an aspiring archaeologist. Whilst her mum is being interviewed for a job at the British Museum, Ruth hears a phone call and is unable to resist answering it. Ruth answering the phone leads her on an adventure to Rook Farm to uncover secrets galore. The first thing I loved about this book was the setting! Howell always sets her books within the East of England and as this is where grew up and still live to this day, I find comfort in these settings, knowing that my region is behind it. It’s also fascinating to learn about how my region coped in post-war times, and I commend Howell for how much research must have gone into the planning and drafting of this book.
This was such an intriguing mystery to solve, and I found myself instantly drawn into Ruth’s determination to uncover the secrets of Rook Farm and its treasure. It was rather fun to try and figure out the secrets myself as the story went along, and I must say, I was shocked at times by what I discovered. There were many twists and turns within the plot itself, and this was the reason why I couldn’t put this book down, no matter how hard I tried. As well as this, I found that the theme of change seemed to resonate a lot within the story. We have all of our characters trying to adjust to life after the war, and how the war has affected them individually. They each have a different story to tell, and throughout the story, we find out how each of them has been impacted, and this made for emotional reading at times, which did bring tears to my eyes.
Ruth was such a likeable heroine and I found her determination and bravery to be infectious. However, she’s also hurting because of her parents’ divorce and we do see her vulnerability come out at times throughout the book. She’s a kindhearted, caring girl also, and we see this by the way she strives to help the habitants of Rook Farm, and the promise she makes to uncover the mystery behind the found treasure. Ruth is also longing to help her mother get a job at the British Museum that she will do anything to make that happen, which also shows how far she is willing to go to see those closest to her succeed. Her relationship with Joe, despite getting off to a frosty start, blossomed into a beautiful friendship that went from strength to strength as the story progressed. The adventures these two went on were brilliant and I would love a spin-off just about Ruth and Joe if I’m being perfectly honest.
The Secret of the Treasure Keepers was yet another triumph for Howell and one that I couldn’t get enough of. It was packed full of mystery, secrecy and adventure and I lapped it all up. I’m eagerly waiting to see what Howell writes next, and one thing is for certain – I know I’m going to love it.