The Secret Child

Book 3: Circles of Time

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
466 Pages
Reviewed on 03/06/2023
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Author Biography

Some readers love History, others crave Fantasy, and never the twain shall meet. To this end David embellishes his stories with a moderate splash of the paranormal into everyday life. His writing style is described as Magical Realism.
David’s strong characterisation is the vehicle that drives belief and make his stories real. He was encouraged to write by his love of history. When genealogy revealed a Scandinavian heritage he began a study of world cultures, including religious beliefs, folklore, change of rule, architecture, the arts, and mode of dress throughout history.

Bool Three, The Secret Child, follows the early reign of Queen Victoria and outlines the history of the East India Company, and a family of an officer in their private army. The family has links to Appleby Castle and an upstairs downstairs drama secretes the mystery of an illegitimate child. HELENA (Rota) and PALI (Leknar) share inconceivable visions of an ancient past, and as the runic ring passes to its rightful owner, the metaphysical warrior hovers, and paranormal activities lay dormant in anticipation.

Book Four is in progress, investigating Aboriginal Dreamtime, bush medicines, and the last convicts to arrive at the Swan River settlement in Western Australia during1857-58.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The Secret Child by David Thomas Kay is a historical paranormal novel and the third book in the Circles of Time series, preceded by book one, The Sword of Saint Isidores, and book two, The Ring of Mann. Kay's saga is centered around the legacy of a family, both directly descended and extended, through its generations and the three divine heirlooms that are passed down: a silver hammer, a ring, and an amulet. As attached to the family as these artifacts are, so too is the green-eyed chimera that follows wherever they are and whoever's possession they are in. The leaping point is through an American settler named Thomas Johnson who absconds with the treasures, only to make his way back to English soil, and sows the seed that spreads its roots through the next century-plus. From caravans to kitchens to estates to factories and beyond, follow the journey of the three heirlooms and the fate of those who hold them, be it Johnson, Atkinson, Crosthwaite, or a traveler.

You have to be a pretty spectacular history buff in order to appreciate the breadth and scope of David Thomas Kay's wildly ambitious Circles of Time series, and as I wrap up The Secret Child I am once more reminded of what makes historical fiction sing. I am a fan of the paranormal and supernatural and both of these elements are the crux of the entire arc. The characters are possessors of the sacred heirlooms but while they are limited by their own mortality in whichever century and, further on, the decade they live in, the tribulations of a family in continued peril is merely the vehicle that pushes Kay's complex plot. The main characters are the artefacts, and if a reader forgets this then the story will be wasted on them. Kay is not an author who caters to traditional storytelling. He caters to the deepest, darkest imagination, and The Secret Child is the best he's offered up in an already exceptional series.

K.C. Finn

The Secret Child by David Thomas Kay is a historical fantasy and family saga which forms the third novel of the Circles of Time series. Continuing the saga of this large extended family, gypsy folklore helps to connect the past to the present and we find ourselves split between two major time zones from the mid-18th and mid-20th centuries. As Amelia returns from trying to escape scandal at Appleby Castle, she encounters a psychic force that links her back to Mary, the haunting figure of a white wolf, and a runic ring that could change everything Amelia knows.

David Thomas Kay knows how to weave an intricate and deeply engrossing family saga. I was grateful for the additional resources provided which helped me to find my place and contextualize the characters, and from here, it was easy to dive into this multi-stranded tale with secrets, scandals, romances, quests for power, and a sinister undertone of magical realism. I love the way Kay brings history to life with gothic flair and vivid, cinematic description, taking us back to the austere vision of the English Lake District and its moody fells and walkways. As a fan of the area, it was nice to see it mentioned. The magic of nature and our connection to the past is utilized beautifully, entrenching realism into the story. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Secret Child for fans of the existing series and those who adore well-crafted family sagas with realistic characters and twisting plots.

Jamie Michele

Thomas Johnson would not strike most as the kind of man who could launch a centuries-long scourge on all his descendants, but that is exactly what happens in The Secret Child by David Thomas Kay, book three in the metaphysical Circles of Time series. A phantom lingers, attached to the magic of three relics Johnson possesses. They are meant only to be in the hands of specific people, so whoever has them at any given time will face the consequences if they are not among the pre-ordained caretakers. Johnson's family tree is so extensive that Kay dedicates space to clarifying who's who. As the relics pass through the hands of several people, Kay takes readers on an armchair tour of the Victorian era, with an upstairs-downstairs social order, politics, and moral boundaries that are frequently in conflict with not only the relics but the evolution of its keepers.

The Secret Child is an ambitious novel, to say the least. There is so much going on that I ended up, as I have with other books by David Thomas Kay, having to take notes. I am a history nerd and have a tenderness for children forced into hard labor so there was some heartbreak on my side with some of the content relating to child labor, which was notoriously horrible during the Industrial Revolution. I have the advantage of, first, being an American who calls England her forever home, so my connection and understanding of how historically things worked was beneficial, although not necessary. Kay absolutely has his finger on the pulse of history. The second advantage is that I've read the first two novels in the series so the foundation was solid for me. Readers who start with this novel will be perfectly comfortable reading it as a stand-alone, but what a shame it would be to have missed out on The Sword of Saint Isidores and The Ring of Mann. Very highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

The Secret Child: Book 3 in the Circles of Time series by David Thomas Kay is a twisting, complicated, familial tale that spans several centuries. With its roots set firmly in Viking lore and mysticism, this tale focuses on the early nineteenth century and the lives of Lady Amelia and her maid and constant companion, Annie. A scandal erupts at Appleby Castle when Amelia’s brother-in-law and known philanderer manages to impregnate both Amelia and Annie. After secretly giving birth and adopting their offspring, the pair flee to India where they remain for twenty years. On their return, the past slowly begins to unravel as an ancient Runic ring and its magical power manage to create havoc for not only them but their descendants, be they legitimate or illegitimate.

The Secret Child is a complicated story that twists and turns in surprising and adventurous ways. The story is crammed full of weird and fascinating synchronicities and Viking mysticism that will lead you down many false trails. I particularly enjoyed the idea of a throwback child that is dark-skinned and abhorrent to a decent and fashionable society. The characters are believable and easy to identify with. It was a time of vast differences between the classes and the different levels of English society. David Thomas Kay does a tremendous job of highlighting the differences between the scandalous behavior of the members of the higher classes that could easily be excused or covered up and the poor, downtrodden working class who were defined by their status and essentially expendable in every way. I also appreciated the sympathetic way the gypsy lifestyle was presented in the story despite many views to the contrary. This is undoubtedly an interesting read and one I can recommend.