Shrouded Secrets: Shrouded Secrets Chronicles (Volume 1)

Rated 4.00/5 based on 7 reviews
When a teenage brother and sister inherit secret metaphysical powers, they are unknowingly hunted by a group of clandestine immortals. While jealously, love, and anger unhinge their once typical lives, temptations to abuse their newfound gifts are manipulated by a shrouded and unyielding adversary who seeks to cast earth into a modern dark age. More

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About Joel T. McGrath

Joel T. McGrath is the author of the young adult series Shrouded Secrets Chronicles. He resides in New Hampshire with his wife, Jessica, their two cats, Cookie and Mittens, and their two gerbils, Flurry and Dash. He is the eighth of nine children and currently enjoys a career of nursing. He graduated from Virginia Western in 2003 and always looks forward to whatever life throws his way.

He began writing because he had stories to tell that were in contrast from the mainstream books that crowd the bookshelves. With his young adult novels, he dared to produce a series of work that would kindle the imagination, as well as entice and challenge the reader's intelligence.

Joel T. McGrath likes penning short stories that can be a little quirky, funny, or ironic. Whether short or long, he loves using his creativity to spin a tale that will allow the reader to escape from the real world, if only for a few moments.

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Reviews

Review by: Sue Leonhardt on Aug. 23, 2011 : (no rating)
Shrouded Secrets is Joel T. McGrath's debut novel, a story that will immerse the reader in a world where an alternate reality can be accessed through hidden portals, but only if you are an Eruditian, or at least half Eruditian, like David and Danielle James. In many ways they are just like other teenagers living in San Diego, but they've inherited the legacy of their deceased father, one of the greatest Galinea, warriors of Eruditus who wield unearthly powers to fight against the evil "Shroud".

We first meet David and Danielle as typical teenagers dealing with the break-up of their family. Their step-father has left their mother; the family faces financial struggles; David is constantly bullied and Danielle falls a little too easily under the influence of the wrong peers. To relieve some of the family's stress, their grandfather invites the two teenagers to New Hampshire during the summer break and there they meet Appollos, a Galinea posing as Paul, their grandfather's paperboy. Their friendship with Paul introduces David to the existence of a world that isn't exactly as it seems. David's dreams take on a deeper reality and then one day while he and his sister get lost in the woods, they come across a railroad stationhouse strangely situated in the middle of nowhere. This house holds the key to connecting David and Danielle's world, Earth, with Eruditus, in the form of a mysterious kaleidoscope that David finds there, but they have yet to discover its use.

When David and Danielle return to San Diego for the school year, they have a new sense of themselves. Unaware of the powers of the kaleidoscope, David and Danielle still have issues to address. Both grow and become empowered when up against their adversaries in high school, always by taking the higher moral ground in confrontations. We can relate to David and Danielle on a very down-to-earth level.

McGrath's story renews the struggle between good and evil. One might have thought this theme had been thoroughly routed in classic best-selling series such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, but Shrouded Secrets makes a strong bid at keeping company with these epics. I believe this book would appeal to fans of science fiction.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: nicki slater on Aug. 05, 2011 : (no rating)
I was surprised with this book. I enjoyed it more than I expected. The story was fun to read and wasn't so young that older people(like me)couldn't get into it. I will recommend this to younger readers and all others that like a good and clean adventure.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Jess Wickedly Bookish on Aug. 05, 2011 :
Reviewed for Wickedly Bookish
http://theindecisivebookangel.blogspot.com

David and Danielle James are your everyday brother and sister; they argue, David bugs the crap out of his big sister, Danielle treats her brother like a nuisance, and underneath it all they really love each other. What these two don't know is that their normal lives are about to be turned upside down as they discover their hidden roots.

Shrouded Secrets reminds me of an old school fantasy book in th...moreReviewed for Wickedly Bookish
http://theindecisivebookangel.blogspot.c...

David and Danielle James are your everyday brother and sister; they argue, David bugs the crap out of his big sister, Danielle treats her brother like a nuisance, and underneath it all they really love each other. What these two don't know is that their normal lives are about to be turned upside down as they discover their hidden roots.

Shrouded Secrets reminds me of an old school fantasy book in that McGrath takes his time building up his characters so that you notice the subtle changes they go through that foreshadow the kind of person they will end up being. The world and culture of Eruditus are carefully constructed and introduced to the reader as if they too are a passenger on this fantastical ride. The problem I had was that I felt like this was a draft rather than a final product. Some of the dialogue and description was a bit wordy and could do with an edit. Shrouded Secrets has the potential to stand up there with titles like The Lightning Thief, but lacks a certain sparkly final coat.

This is a book parents will want their pre-teens to read. The situations and characters are very YA, but unlike other YA titles, you can trust that your kids are getting something really good out of their reading experience. The dialogue is relate-able, yet wholesome and the underlying messages of self-awareness and responsibility wrapped in a sci-fi fantasy package will leave them with concepts they can use in everyday life.

Overall, Shrouded Secrets is a heartfelt first installment to a series that has the potential to become a classic. Certain scenes really grabbed me on an emotional level. Without spoiling the main plot points, McGrath creates such a innately evil, totally dislike-able character in Madison that I whooped when she finally got what was coming to her. Also, I cried when I thought my favorite character was going to die. The character really became that real for me that I feared for his/her life. So now Mr. McGrath, you can say you made me cry, which is a difficult thing to do when it comes to books and movies. You see, McGrath's debut novel is no mindless read like most YA books today, which is why I recommend it. However, it may not appeal to more adult minds until it gets that final coat.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Myndi Swain on April 05, 2011 :
Shrouded Secrets was an easy read and made you feel as if you were apart of David and Danielle's world. The struggle between right and wrong left you sitting on the edge of your seat. Shrouded Secrets for me was a real page turner. Joel's descriptive tone made you feel as if you were walking along side of the characters. Although it is a work of fiction it has deep undertones of what our society faces on a day to day basis. I recommend this book for all. Give it two thumbs up!!!!!!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Rissa Trexler on April 05, 2011 :
Right from the start, I was drawn into this story as the author introduced two different worlds. His well chosen words illustrated the settings and interesting characters. By chapter two, I was in for sure, as siblings David and Dannie visit Gramps in New Hampshire. This was an unsuspecting yet perfect setting for the story to start unfolding, and it did. Myself, a NH resident and lover, I can say that he nailed it and can take you there too.

The story kept me enthralled chapter by chapter to the end - there are no flat spots. I thoroughly enjoyed his imagination and his take on good versus evil. I feel that he must have early influences in classics like Star Wars, but yet his work is 100% original and believable. These seemingly normal brother and sister develop super powers while contending with pretty realistic teenage tribulations, but yet there’s nothing predictable about it.

The transitions were seamless, storyline was dynamic, and the characters were developed until I knew them and could picture them. Even as an adult, I can relate to their thoughts and emotions. In describing what the characters are thinking and feeling, it seems the author unknowingly lets you into his own head a little.

The author brought me on a journey, but unlike so many sci-fi endings, left me with closure and hope. I look forward to finding out more about David and Dannie, so I do hope that McGrath is working on the sequel.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Elaina J Davidson on April 05, 2011 :
Shrouded Secrets is firmly in the YA category, from home situations between siblings and figures of authority to the daily school routine. Throw in a strange vacation, and you have the interest of your reader...but when that strangeness spills over into ordinary life, you have a tale worth following. I have to insert here that ‘Shrouded Secrets’ is a great title- it certainly grabbed my attention.

The story is good. A world that exists in the dark matter surrounding us, much like Earth...with a few tweaks. A boy able to step through the thinning to help Earth, and a boy from our world able to wield the power of that other place. And a supporting cast both otherworldly and ordinary.

However, I feel Shrouded Secrets needs a little tweaking itself. It reads (to a fellow writer) like a first draft, when we make the mistake of inserting too many adjectives and extra words. There is as well a sense of formality many YA readers may not identify with. The pace is a little slow. From my perspective, I would like to see Shrouded Secrets undergo a thorough edit...and then the tale will shine bright.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Mia Carganilla on March 29, 2011 :
Shrouded Secrets is wild ride of adventure! From the first pages of the book there is already something happening and the readers will get a glimpse of where the story might be leading to.

I thought that the premise was very innovative and original. The world of Eruditus and its inhabitants just fascinated me.

Furthermore, Joel McGrath's writing is just genuinely wonderful and he did a great job on creating vivid characters like David and Danielle. They're relationship, too, as siblings seemed genuine and downright relatable. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I also like their development through out the story. The sense of adventure, too, is one of my favorites. Perhaps, my only issue on this one is the slow pacing. I find some parts to be lagging at times.

Overall, Shrouded Secrets is an entertaining and wonderful read. I'm giving this a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars and I recommend this to fans of YA Sci-fi-Fantasy and Adventure!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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