Phoebe Douse

Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts

Young Adult - General
322 Pages
Reviewed on 09/13/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts is a novel for middle grade and younger YA readers penned by author L. Samuels, with accompanying illustrations. Our precocious young heroine is quick to dismiss Grandmother Naan when she tells her tales of the fantastical and the mysterious, but when tragedy strikes, young Phoebe Douse discovers a startling truth in those stories. Swept away to a Scottish boarding school, Phoebe finds herself inducted into the secret society of the novel’s title, a society where she not only discovers the power of things around her but the power within herself as well. With power comes a choice, and Phoebe doesn’t know which path is right for her yet.

Mixing the narrative style of traditional children’s fiction with the modern sensibilities of the magical boarding school genre is no mean feat, but author L. Samuels does a great job of delivering a fantasy genre novel with a classic literary feel. Phoebe is a well-developed heroine thrust into an unusual world, urging her readers to discover and decide with her as different opportunities, both fantastic and dangerous, are presented to her. There are important themes on selfishness, power, friendship, and choice running throughout the story, as well as compelling magical lore and special skills that offer surprises and plot twists along the way. Overall, Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts will appeal to young readers who enjoy both magical tales and spy/mystery fiction for its interesting world building and atmospheric plot creation.

Michelle Stanley

Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts by Lucille Samuels is a mystery for preteens. Phobe Douse regrets not listening to her deceased Grandma Naan’s superstitious stories, especially after transferring to a school in Scotland. This school teaches students with paranormal powers, but Phoebe isn’t aware of her full abilities. Headmaster Duff introduces her to S3A2, a secret organization that uses these powers to make changes in the world and encourages her to join. She constantly hears Naan’s warnings in her head and is puzzled over the disappearance of a couple of past students. Something sinister is happening at school. Phoebe doesn’t know who to trust; her new friends who are capable of controlling their powers, or the headmaster who sees her true capabilities.

Intriguing is a mild way to describe Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts, Book 1 in the Phoebe Douse Trilogy. Poor Phoebe learned the hard way why it’s important to listen. Imagine having telepathy, telekinesis, medium powers or other special gifts like these students who felt out of place in society. The characters are wonderfully developed and sometimes it’s difficult to tell who is actually good. At no time did the author’s creative writing falter, it just got more fascinating. I liked the setting very much based on the vivid descriptions given. You just want to read on with so many activities taking place. I hope I get the chance to read Book 2, Phoebe Douse: The Return. This is a lovely series for preteens, both girls and boys.

Liz Konkel

Phoebe Douse: Secret Society for Special Abilities and Artefacts by L. Samuels is the first book in the Phoebe Douse trilogy. Phoebe's Naan always said she was special, but she never believed the stories or that she had special abilities. She trusted one person with her secret and when she's betrayed, her whole life changes and she becomes known as a witch in all the school gossip. So, when she gets an invitation to attend a prestigious school in Scotland, she jumps at the chance to start over. The first few days get off to a good start as she already makes new friends and the teachers seem great, even if the classes seem a little odd. But things at the school are also a little strange. As she uncovers the secrets behind the school, she discovers secrets her new friends are keeping and a connection to her Naan. As Phoebe learns the truth about herself, she's drawn to solve an even bigger mystery the school is hiding.

Samuels sets the school in the beautiful location of Scotland which adds to the mystery and allure the school possesses. The school provides two functions to the story as this new place gives Phoebe an opportunity to start over while also being the center of the larger mystery. Samuels cleverly weaves in small incidents and oddities to catch Phoebe's attention and drive her to seek out answers. Each incident slowly builds up the mystery as Phoebe starts noticing strange events from her classes to an eclipse to even certain phrases said by her new friends. The truth slowly unveils as she starts uncovering secrets the school has and those her friends have.

Samuels creates a fun secret society mystery with a paranormal touch and a coming of age journey with the theme of secrets and trust playing a key role in how Phoebe progresses and how the story moves forward. The characters are phenomenal, each with their own special quirks and role they play both in the story and in Phoebe's life. They get her to open up and trust while showing her to have fun and accept who she is, which helps her discover who she can be. She's an honest and sincere person with a little naivety and a curious view about the world which makes her perfectly suited to solving all the school has been keeping secret. Phoebe Douse has mystery and action with themes of friendship, secrets, and trust which make for an addictive read from start to finish. You won't be able to put it down until you reach the end!