Review: Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston


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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆


About the Book:

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed?

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My Thoughts:

Paula Brackston’s Found Things series continues in Secrets of the Chocolate House.  Ms. Brackston is a fantastic storyteller. She has beautifully incorporated historical fact into a time travel fantasy.  When Xanthe and her ailing mother go to an estate sale in hopes of restocking their antique shop with tempting items, she happens upon a copper chocolate pot that sings to her.  So begins another adventure that spans the present and the early seventeenth century.

In this engaging second installment, Xanthe is not only drawn to the seventeen century by an object, but also by her interest in Samuel. Through Samuel, his family and friends, readers learn a lot of history.  Ms. Brackston’s research is evident.  Her writing hits all the senses in both the present day as well as the past.

I really enjoyed Xanthe’s present day predicament with a suitor and a smarmy ex-boyfriend.  I loved how the addition of the ex-boyfriend exponentially expanded the reader’s understanding of Xanthe’s tentative, questioning decision making.  I have mixed feelings about how torn she was between the past and present.  I liked the slowly evolving information about how she is able to time travel.  While it was frustrating at times, the reader learns as Xanthe learns—as opposed to the reader having more information than the main character.

A strong, dark nemesis has been revealed in Secrets of the Chocolate House.  Even though that antagonist doesn’t have the same deep threatening evil feel as the antagonist in the Witch’s Daughter, I am sure that as the story continues, the “plot will thicken” and the evil and threat will be more revealed.



About the Author: Paula Brackston (aka PJ Brackston)is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter, The Winter Witch, and The Midnight Witch(2014).

Paula has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. In 2007 Paula was short listed in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book ‘Nutters’ (writing as PJ Davy) was short listed for the Mind Book Award, and she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.  Paula lives in Wales with her partner and their two children.



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