The Secret Journal

God Stones Book 1

Young Adult - Adventure
452 Pages
Reviewed on 08/02/2020
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Author Biography

Otto Schafer grew up exploring the small historic town in central Illinois featured in his first work of fiction, The Secret Journal. If you visit Petersburg, Illinois you may find locations familiar from the book. You may even discover, as Otto did, that history has left behind cleverly hidden traces of magic, whispered secrets, and untold treasures.

Like many of you, Otto Schafer always wanted to write though, occupied with raising a family and building a successful career, he struggled to find the time. But the stories refused to rest, springing into his mind as he ran the forested trails of Illinois and invading his dreams at night, until finally he began writing them down.

Otto is currently working on the second book in the God Stones series, which is due out in November 2020. He and his loving wife reside in a quiet log cabin tucked away in the woods. You can often find him sitting out back by the koi pond, whittling words into stories for his readers.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite

The Secret Journal (God Stones, Book 1) by Otto Schafer brings to life two main characters in two very different locations. First, you have Breanne Moore, who blames herself for her mother’s death and relives the event often in her dreams. Breanne is with her brothers and father on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Her father, an archaeologist, is hot on the trail of the Ark of the Covenant and believes he has found the location of Templar treasure. Meanwhile in Petersburg, Illinois, Garrett Turek and his friends discover half an old manuscript hidden in the wall of an old Victorian home. Garrett and his friend begin to unravel the story of how Abraham Lincoln’s journal ended up behind a wall in a basement hidden for all time. As Breanne’s dreams of fire, being trapped and a mysterious dark force are intensifying, Garrett and his friends begin to uncover more secrets surrounding a powerful prophecy and the Knights Templar. As secrets are uncovered, will Garrett and Breanne be able to stop the dark magical forces that are threatening to destroy the world by fire?

Otto Schafer has unleashed an incredible story on the world. The Secret Journal (God Stones, Book 1) is a creative work bringing into play the past, present, and future. I for one found this book difficult to put down. The characters are well developed and the reader can easily identify with the two heroes. Garrett, a young man who struggles with his own value, doesn’t understand the training he must do at night and the secrecy that surrounds the training. Breanne loves archaeology and enjoys being with her father on his digs. She and her family end up fighting for their lives after an evil dark force leaves them trapped hundreds of feet below the surface. Once the God Stones are removed by the dark force, Garrett, Breanne, and their friends are locked into a powerful prophecy and must come to terms with their roles in saving the world from destruction. The Secret Journal must be on everyone’s reading list. You will become one of the chosen heroes to follow Garrett and Breanne in their fight against the dark forces. A well developed and written book. I look forward to reading more work from this author.

Deborah Adams

The Secret Journal by Otto Schafer is a slow-building young adult adventure with a tension-filled finale that will have readers on the edge of their seats. I found the writing style to be reminiscent of American classics, with realistic characters and a multi-point-of-view plot that unfolded naturally on the page. The friendships between the younger characters, Garrett, Lenny, and Pete, were a highlight of this book. The boys felt lived-in and the secrets of their families and the town in general always left me guessing. Fans who enjoy the adventure and historical perspectives of stories like Indiana Jones and the realistic character building of classics by authors like Mark Twain are in for an enjoyable read.

While the story rotates among several characters, the majority of this novel is told by Garrett, an Illinois teenager who slowly learns the secrets of a long-lost journal with his friends; and Breanne, the daughter of a successful archeologist who is bent on following in her father’s footsteps. The promise of the synopsis feels just out of reach until we arrive at the final chapters, setting up readers for an anticipatory wait for the next installment. The Secret Journal by Otto Schafer won’t remain a secret for long. This was a page-turning debut novel by an author with a great deal of talent and imagination. Five well-deserved stars.

K.C. Finn

The Secret Journal is a work of fiction in the action, adventure, and supernatural fantasy sub-genres, and was penned by author Otto Schafer. The opening book to the God Stones series, this novel is aimed at young adult audiences and does contain some instances of cursing which would be more suited to the mature end of the reading audience. The story brings together teenage protagonists Breanne and Garrett, who both have difficulties in dealing with their families and their emotions. So when Breanne and her archaeologist dad trigger a terrible chain reaction of dormant magic, she finds herself drawn to a boy from her vision-like dreams, and into an epic battle to save their planet from total destruction.

Author Otto Schafer has crafted a truly excellent work of contemporary fantasy fiction which will be sure to tick every box that a fantasy fan could be looking for in their reading experience. Between these pages, we find a deep commitment to character and the development of emotionally realistic and very different heroes, thrown into a highly magical world which smacks of gritty reality as well as atmospheric supernatural prophecies and powers. The worldbuilding around the ancient magic is very well done and delivered in a timely and exciting fashion as the plot progresses, giving the characters time to act, time to develop, and also time to bond together through their emotions and background. Overall, I would highly recommend The Secret Journal as a fantastic work of fantasy fiction that rockets from start to finish with excitement, engagement, and more.

Rabia Tanveer

The Secret Journal is the first book in the God Stones series by Otto Schafer. Garrett has to stay out of the way of his stepfather, the bullies at school, and make enough money to get those new running shoes. So, he gets a job restoring an old house where he finds an old journal that will change his life forever. Before he knows it, that journal reveals far too many secrets about his hometown than he anticipated. On the flip side, we have Breanne Moore. Breanne lost her mother most tragically and now she is paranoid for her archaeologist father's safety. She joins him on a burial site where he is invited to investigate. Soon, the father-daughter duo is stuck in a supposed treasure hunt without even knowing that they are about to unlock something terrible. Breanne's and Garret’s fates are about to intertwine where they will fight forces far more powerful than these two ever will be.

Oh wow, this was an intense and action-packed adventure. The Secret Journal is a roller coaster ride where you will join two highly intelligent protagonists in their respective plotlines. Garret is a little desperate, very vulnerable, and ready to do whatever it takes to change his life. Breanne, on the other hand, is hurt and grieving. The two of them are from completely different backgrounds and their contrasting lives really made the story enjoyable for me. It is interesting how the reader can see the contrast between the two characters yet find so many similarities between them as well. The pace is fast yet not too much so that the reader will feel rushed. Otto Schafer takes his time to build up the mystery in both storylines, give characters room to develop, and making sure the reader has enough information to anticipate what happens next. The ending is surprising and enough for me to wait for the next novel in the series. I have so many questions that I hope the author will answer in the next book.

Kim Anisi

The Secret Journal by Otto Schafer is the first volume in the God Stones series. The troubles begin (anew) in Egypt in 1050 AD. The not so friendly character Apep awakes, is set free, and wants revenge for his imprisonment. But it takes him a few centuries to find what he is looking for, and the actual story takes place in our modern time. Readers are introduced to Breanne Moore, who works on a mysterious dig site in Nova Scotia, on Oak Island, with her father who is a professional archeologist. Meanwhile, in Petersburg, Illinois, Garrett Turek has the usual troubles of a teenage boy at school - just that his time after school is a little different from that of other boys his age. His stepfather makes him train in a variety of disciplines, but Garrett is not to talk about his extra training and chores to anybody else. Then, he and his friends find a mysterious old journal in someone else's basement. Breanne as well as Garrett have disturbing dreams, and they soon find out that their dreams are not just normal nightmares, especially after Breanne and her dad's team unearths a very special treasure. It's the treasure Apep is looking for and soon people's lives are in serious danger.

If my life wasn't so busy at the moment, I would have finished The Secret Journal by Otto Schafer in 1-2 days, as the book is rather hard to put down. I found the various dig site descriptions very interesting and enjoyed trying to imagine what the Oak Island mystery pit would look like, and how it all works. This book can't be put into just one category as it has elements of mystery, coming of age, a little fantasy, a good pinch of adventure, and I can also see a little bit of romance on the horizon. How Garrett and Breanne are connected isn't clear from the beginning, and that was one of the things that kept me interested. I also love books that include mysterious books, or in this case, a journal. I found the connections to historical characters interesting and felt like the author has a nicely flowing writing style that keeps you immersed in the world of his characters. Garrett, Breanne, and the other characters kept me entertained and helped me to forget my own problems for a few hours, as the book left me no choice but to focus on it. I'm looking forward to the second part of the series!