The Sinister Secrets of Singe by Sean Ferrell, illust. by Graham Carter
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Publication Date: June 6th, 2023
Hardcover. 384 pages.
About The Sinister Secrets of Hinge:
"Eleven-year-old Noah has grown up in a mysterious house that grows larger every night with only his mother and a robot-boy for company. He spends his days building robotic devices for the city of Liberty, a place he’s not even allowed to visit—not since his father almost destroyed it when Noah was only a baby.
When Noah discovers a message hidden in one of his father's inventions, he decides to run away to find him. He’s sure that at his father’s side he’ll finally get the recognition he deserves. With the help of a band of smugglers (especially unofficial second in command, young Winona), he sails to Singe to rescue his father, who he’s certain is as misunderstood as he is, but the man he finds there is even more of a monster than his mechanical creations. And when Noah returns home, he accidentally leads his father’s robot army to Liberty once more.
Now, it’s up to Noah to rescue the city—but to do so, he’ll have to make a terrible choice."
It's been a while since I've had a chance to return to the fantastic world of middle grade, and The Sinister Secrets of Singe was the perfect middle grade to come back to it with. This book is filled to the brim with robots, adventure, ships, daring escapes, discovery, and so much more.
The Sinister Secrets of Singe follows Noah, an eleven year old boy who has known no other life than that of living alone in a house that somehow seems to expand in size every night, with only his companion/nanny robot-boy and mother for company. Noah's entire life mostly consists of building and repairing robots at his mother's request, and he has never been allowed to step foot into the nearby city of Liberty, a city that was believed to be attacked and wrecked by his father's robotic creations shortly after Noah was born. From this beginning, we follow Noah along a journey after he discovers a secret message from his father and sets off to find where his father has been hiding all these years and to hopefully find a life better than his own. Noah ends up getting much more than he bargained for on this journey and ends up facing a variety of obstacles and discovering more about the world around him than he could have ever anticipated.
I absolutely loved this world! It's packed full of robots, mystery, colorful characters, and plenty of unique settings that really piqued my interest. I loved getting to learn about Noah's house in the beginning of the book and just how it manages to grow each night, as well as how robots fit into this world (and also, I guess, how they didn't). I also enjoyed getting to explore the city of Liberty and the mysterious island of Singe, and I only wish we had spent even more time at Singe to see what else was there. There is so much to explore in this world and I think the author did an incredible job of showcasing this world to readers through his storytelling.
I also found myself really engaged in Noah's journey from relative naivete about the world around him to slowly discovering things that were both exciting and difficult for him to come to grips with. Noah has had a rough life being stuck in one house with so many restrictions that he often felt at odds with his mother. I enjoyed seeing his interactions with all the new people he meets along the way and how he learns to trust and open up to different people, including his mother. He is introduced to the realities of life in ways that are honestly quite blunt and almost brutal at times, but the way the author does this in a way that almost leads readers on the same journey as Noah in coming to terms with things and learning how to adapt to a variety of changes in life.
This is a pretty fast-paced book, so if you're looking for something to really keep you turning the pages, The Sinister Secrets of Singe is a great pick. It's also full of action, with plenty of high-intensity scenes that left me grateful for moments of relative calm after them. I think things got a little convoluted or slightly chaotic in some of the climactic scenes at the end which caused my attention to waver slightly, but I could definitely see a younger reader on the edge of their seats drinking it all up.
Overall, I've given The Sinister Secrets of Singe four stars! This is an incredibly fun middle grade adventure with plenty of heart, and is sure to delight readers of any age.