The Book of Secrets

The Book of Secrets

Written by Alex Dunne, Cover illustration by Shona Shirley Macdonald

The Trooping Fairies arrive in Clonbridge for their revels, awakening other creatures with mischief and chaos in mind. Cat Donnelly and her friends are planning the ultimate trick-or-treating strategy, but with the Fairies in town, this Halloween she needs all her courage and cunning to save her family.

Paperback: €12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Size:216x150 mm
ISBN: 9781788493208

E-Book (ePub): €8.99
Also available as an E-Book (ePub)
ISBN: 9781788494014

The door flew open, and Granny stared out at Cat with wild eyes.
‘So,’ she said, almost in a whisper, ‘they’re back.’
For the first time in over fifty years, the Trooping Fairies are in the small town of Clonbridge for their annual Revels. Their arrival awakens other creatures, who have mischief and chaos in mind.
Eleven-year-old Cat is in more danger than most. She has the Sight, like her Granny before her, and that makes her a magnet for all things supernatural. But when the wild magic hurts her family, she needs to find a friend she can really trust. Together they face real danger and must use all their wits and bravery to save those they love, before the sun rises …

Alex Dunne Shona Shirley Macdonald

Alex Dunne is an Irish author living in Canada. She spends her time thinking up magical tales for children, teens and adults and drinking far too much tea. Alex has a BA in English & History from the University of Limerick and an MA in Literature & Publishing from NUI Galway. She is a co-founder of Silver Apples Magazine, an online literary journal dedicated to showcasing the best of Irish and international writing. The Book of Secrets is her first published novel. You can follow Alex on Twitter and Instagram @alexdunnewrites

This book is perfect for 10–15-year-olds who really like fantasy, adventure and mystery. I really enjoyed this book because it was interesting, funny, heartwarming, clever and I really enjoyed the ending … 5 stars! - By David (age 11), 5th Class, Knockrooskey NS, Westport, Co. Mayo 

Seomra Ranga

rooted deep in Irish myth and legend but with a touch of tech and suitably sinister cover illustrations by Shona Shirley MacDonald

The Echo

I think that Alex Dunne, as author of The Book of Secrets may well have been to a fairy revel before, so wonderfully exotic and marvellous are her descriptions, I certainly wanted to be there for real and my imagination did a wonderful job of making it happen. I hope yours will too … From Irish publisher O’Brien Press this is a thrilling, magical debut story which has been inspired by Irish mythology (which is of course full of fairy-folk) and Irish folklore, with such rich histories to delve into this story is nothing short of compelling and fascinating as well as magical. You do need to listen and read closely though for this is a story of wishes, some of which may come true. It is also the story of those mischievous little folk who love nothing more than chaos and this Halloween for Cat and her friends, who, having swapped scary stories soon find themselves in real danger and in need of wits and bravery to save the day…


a thrilling story of adventure in the old ways, that successfully fuses real and magical … As the world changes at an ever speedier rate, folk tales and stories of magical creatures feel more important and vital than ever, providing a link to the old ways and playing a special role in a child’s imaginative world. Alex Dunne’s enthralling story is set at Samhain, Hallowe’en, the time when the walls between the worlds are thin and her protagonist, eleven-year-old Caitriona Donnelly, encounters all sorts of strange folk, some beautiful, most terrible, all untrustworthy … The story is compact and fast-paced, events moving with the urgency of the race against the clock this is, and it makes for thrilling reading. Dunne’s conjuring of the old ways is wholly convincing, real and magical successfully fused together … Readers outside Ireland may not be familiar with Clurichauns, the Dullahan or Merrows, but they’ll believe in them all by the time they close this story of magic, menace and mortal persistence ... Rich in folklore … thrilling reading, real and magical successfully fused together’

Books for Keeps

your next great adventure story for ages 9+ … brilliant writing. As a librarian, I'm constantly trying to put books into the hands of students that will keep them engaged and ignite their imagination, this is one of those books. Loaded with Irish folklore, it has a myriad of mythical creatures, all with their own peculiarities and eccentricities. Readers will be lost in the gorgeous, odd and frankly scary world of these beings. In our school, the world of games like Dungeons & Dragons is massively popular. I can see where these games like this have taken inspiration from the creatures of Irish folklore, creatures that Alex Dunne has beautifully brought to life. I recommend The Book of Secrets for ages 9+, school librarians looking for the next great adventure story do not need to look any further!

Lucas Maxwell (former UK Librarian of the Year)

Pure Irish magic for kids 9-12

The Gutter Bookshop

The author expertly crafts the atmosphere of Halloween; the veil between the worlds thinning, letting the other side creep in bit by bit … the characterisation, dialogue, setting and human issues combine to create an adventure that cannot be missed. Once you open the book, it’s nonstop and utterly consuming. Compelling, rich in legend and imagination, The Book of Secrets will make you rethink all your Halloween adventures

Fallen Star Stories

makes for a deliciously spooky book to read as the days grow shorter and the nights crowd in. It is a modern fairy tale in all respects, harkening back to older tales but with nods and elements … that ground it firmly in today


the perfect MG Contemporary Fantasy with a dash of scares for Halloween and has a real feel of an earthier, more folkish Labyrinth. Embracing whole heartedly Irish folklore and mythology along with being on the spooky vibes side of life … not only indulges a love of folklore and mythology but truly respects and celebrates it … Alex pulls upon a rich tapestry of Irish mythology


I absolutely loved this fairy tale story set in Ireland in modern day times … I especially loved the Labyrinth type vibes I was getting from the book, and it would be a fab book for 10+ to read as in an intro to fantasy books. I highly recommend this book and it is beautifully written. I struggled to put it down and a very accessible read for middle graders/primary school kids


Dunne takes familiar elements of Irish folklore and enriches them with extra imaginative detail, offering young readers a great starting point for learning more about the uniquely Irish elements of Halloween

Irish Times

Fast paced and thrilling, it’s a great Halloween read

Irish Independent

Irish folklore meets modern Ireland in this wonderful debut novel

Grainne O’Brien, O’Mahony’s Booksellers, Limerick in Sunday Times Ireland

a brilliant fantasy fairy tale story set in modern-day Ireland

Sunday Independent

thrilling, adventure-packed novel blending modern Ireland with Irish folklore

Irish Independent

full of Irish lore and magic

Irish Examiner

a fantastic middle grade novel brimming with Irish folklore!

Lucas Maxwell on Bookriot

A terrific story … Fast moving and gripping

Sarah Webb

A brilliant, twisty read for seven- to nine-year-olds; full of Irish folklore. I couldn’t put it down 

Sue Leonard, Irish Examiner

draws on Irish folklore to conjure its own captivating universe

Westmeath Examiner

Alex Dunne has created a sense of mystery and suspense in her debut novel, The Book of Secrets. Her descriptive language paints a clear picture of the town of Clonbridge, which comes alive at night when the fairies seamlessly drift into town to prepare for a celebration which coincides with Halloween ... When fairy magic creates mayhem for her family, Cat has to unravel riddles and save her loved ones with the help of a true friend. Dunne’s narrative is a fast-paced quest steeped in the lore of fairies and magic, but also touches on serious themes such as death, family breakups, and the loss of adolescent friendships. She explores the tensions between traditional values and modern technology, showing the value of both within society. The pacing of the plot is sustained by a cliff hanger at the end of each chapter which forces the reader to dive into the next! The richness of Irish magic and folklore beautifully woven within the narrative adds a sense uniqueness to the novel which will particularly appeal to an Irish audience

Children's Books Ireland

Teaching Resources: free to view and download

  • Download Teaching Guides: Teaching guide to the book by Nicola Heaney

Also by Shona Shirley Macdonald:

The Pooka Party
The Moon Spun Round

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