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Reviewed by Jennifer Donovan for Readers' Favorite
Secrets the Walkers Keep by J. Morgan Michaels is the first book in the Casters of Magic series. After his mother’s death, Manhattan “Hat” Walker is no longer himself. Whereas he had previously spent time with his large family weekly, if not more frequently, he has begun to distance himself. Aside from his overwhelming grief, he has also been struck with sudden visions of the past that he cannot explain. Thankfully, a friend recognizes what is happening and introduces him to her group of friends, all of whom have magical gifts. Thrust into this world of magic, Hat learns that his family has been keeping secrets, and because of those secrets, a man without a face seeks to destroy Hat and claim a powerful amulet known as the Opalescence as his own.
My favorite part of Secrets the Walkers Keep was its humor. There were a few instances in which I laughed out loud. Hat is a relatable, awkward character, and he is unaware of just how little he knows about his family, let alone himself. His banter with his family is lighthearted and realistic, even when deeper topics are discussed. J. Morgan Michaels has a gift for writing dialogue. I also really enjoyed the depth of Hat as a character. After his mother dies and he meets other Casters, he replaces his blood family with this newfound one. Even when he finds love, his self-sabotaging nature takes the lead, spiraling him out of control. Hat will have to face his demons in order to protect his family and friends, but his repressed past is so horrible that after it resurfaces, it nearly destroys him. He is a character you will root for, even when you want to take him by the shoulders and shake him back to his senses.
This audiobook was narrated by Tristan Wright. The mark of a good narrator is when you forget that a single person is speaking because each character has a distinct voice. Tristan Wright did a great job of immersing me in the story; I found it difficult to stop listening to the book. The audio production was professionally rendered, and I feel that listening to this book rather than reading it only added to my enjoyment. Overall, I highly recommend this audiobook, and I truly look forward to reading the next installment in the series when it is released.