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Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite
Secrets The Walkers Keep by J. Morgan Michaels finds the central character, Manhattan Walker, in the depths of despair after the death of his beloved mother. Through several harrowing chapters we follow his attempts to come to terms with her passing and get back to some semblance of normal life. Manhattan is fortunate to have an understanding employer who allows him time to recover, but all is thrown into confusion when he receives an odd bequest from his mother’s estate - a necklace which changes its shape and form as he handles it, creating turmoil in both his mind and his life. Searching for answers, he consults a trusted aunt from his huge family and slowly begins to realise that the family is not at all that it seems; it has been involved in magic for generations.
Struggling to come to terms with this strange, new-found knowledge, he allows Liv, an attractive co-worker, one he considers perfect and out of his league, to take him to a club where he meets some folk known as Casters - folk steeped in magic. He quickly realises they are like him in many ways, and they enable him to understand his gift and the risks that go along with it. He is made to understand that there are dark forces at work, hungry for the power the Casters hold; forces that will stop at nothing, including murder, to acquire it. He and Liv develop a close relationship, but Manhattan is confused when he is not able to relate to this beautiful girl in a sexual way. He is even more confused when he finds himself attracted to the owner of his local gym, and thus begins to question his sexuality. But these are the least of his problems. As dark forces gather, he learns that the death of his mother was not a simple heart attack and fate has decided that he must battle for the safety of the whole Walker family, the world, and his own life against a faceless and terrifying opponent.
Secrets the Walkers Keep is a multi-layered urban fantasy by J. Morgan Michaels, where magic and mystery are woven into an intricate, surprising, and sometimes shocking plot. Secrets the Walkers Keep is written in the first person and as such we share a great deal of what is going on in the central character’s head. Manhattan Walker is not an immediately likeable character - he is weak, feckless, and tends to shy away from emotional or confrontational situations. But as the narrative develops, we start to see Manhattan’s (Hat for short) strengths develop. It is almost a coming-of-age tale with some magic, skulduggery and horrific situations thrown in. The characters are well-developed and the narrative moves along at a reasonable pace. Secrets the Walkers Keep is an impressive debut novel which I enjoyed. J. Morgan Michaels is a talented author and I was pleased to see that his narrative allows for a follow up volume – it will be interesting to see what young Manhattan will get up to next.