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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.