A review by oceanwriter
The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

adventurous emotional hopeful mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


I blindly picked up this book only knowing it was historical fiction. I’d read Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan Henry a while back and enjoyed it, so when this came up as a Book of the Month pick last year, I selected it without even glancing at the synopsis. 
Like many children living in London during World War II, Hazel and Flora are sent to the country away. The girls spend their days lost in stories about the ‘Whisperwood’ to distract themselves from the horrors of war — a secret story only the two of them know. Despite having been taken in by a loving mother and her son, a different tragedy hits their family when Flora disappears. 
Years later and into adulthood, Hazel still holds out hope that her little sister will be found. She doesn’t believe her sister drowned as many speculate. When she comes across a book at work depicting the 'Whisperwood', she is certain it will lead her to Flora. 
Paired with the rich historical setting, the mystery is one I found myself so invested in that I listened to/read it in one sitting. Despite wanting to know how everything works out immediately, I didn’t find myself wholly invested in the characters. I’m not sure why. They were all likable and even though there were some dark themes running through it, there was ultimately a cozy atmosphere. Whatever the case, it was still a sweet book. 

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