Melinda and Felix Hutton are just an ordinary pair of siblings, until their parents confess that they have all inherited the talent of metamorphosis, a revelation that begins to unravel the children’s world. Ten-year-old Melinda embraces her Athenite heritage, but her efforts often end up leaving her freckled face attached to feathered body with a twitching rat’s tail. Her older brother Felix doesn’t greet this new reality as something to celebrate. Wishing he were normal, Felix resents becoming parts of the myths and fables he’s read. But there’s a threat rising just as the children are learning of their talents, and a powerful enemy will use every trick and tool he has to keep the family from letting slip the secret of their gifts. With only the help of Melinda’s pet rabbit Aesop, who has begun acting awfully strange lately, Felix and Melinda determinedly fight back against the suffocating grasp of those who want to drive the Huttons and their kind back underground.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the cover. Just look at it. Adorable, creepy, simplistic — it grabbed me right from the get go. (Though cover Melinda and book Melinda look a good bit different, it still hooked me.)
Now let’s talk about the story. Cute, charming and fun. I love it when writers give their characters unique, quirky names and White did fabulous here. Melinda, Felix, Aesop, Stumpworthy — White clearly thinks the same as me. If you’re going to name a character, make it fun! I loved Melinda’s awkward transformations. Showing up for breakfast with rabbit ears — wonderful.
My only wish was that there was more depth to the story. It’s a short one — just a little over 100 pages. Nothing wrong with that. There have been many a book I’ve read that needed a major trim, but Aesop’s Secret needed expansion. I wanted more details. I wanted a fuller experience. I wanted more dialog. I wanted to get inside the characters’ skin. The story moved so quickly that I felt I was more skating over the surface rather than diving deep. For instance, I expected Melinda to explore and experiment with transforming into animals. Think about it. If you were ten (or really, any age) and suddenly realized you could become ANY animal what would you do? Try out a lion? Zebra? Alligator? Peacock? Heck, python? Melinda only tries to become a horse, a rabbit, a squirrel, a mouse, and a very large frog. So, to be fair, she does experiment. I just wanted something a bit more bold. There was so much potential to really have some crazy, outrageous fun. Why not rhino! Having said that, White has made the book a series, so it’s likely that the characters will continue to develop and there will be more opportunities for some fun animal transformations.
In conclusion, Aesop’s Secret is a fun read for both children and adults.
A breeze brushed her curly brown hair into her eyes, a reminder that she was simply a short, slightly pudgy ten-year-old girl with freckles playing connect the dots across her face.
“For centuries we have been forced to live secret lives, never letting anyone know who and what we really are. We are different and therefore at risk.”
Melinda’s eyes sprang open. Her room was dark except for a sliver of moonlight that shone in through the slit in her curtains. She was wide awake and knew that she would have trouble falling back to sleep, but she didn’t care. She was happy to have left that dream behind.
I want to thank Rosie’s Book Review Team and Claudia White for the free copy of Aesop’s Secret.