Published by Chicken House, 2022.
The Secrets Act is an exciting and suspenseful mystery set against the backdrop of World War II and inspired by the impressive young women who worked as code-breakers at Bletchley Park.
Pearl and Ellen are recruited to work at code-cracking headquarters, Bletchley Park, during the Second World War. When the girls stumble across a sinister plot which threatens the very soul of the war effort, their budding friendship is put to the test – especially when their hearts are on the line. Who can they really trust, who can they afford to fall for, and can they solve the greatest puzzle of their lives before it’s too late?
I was gripped by this story and raced through the book, trying to piece together the clues alongside Pearl and Ellen. The plot is full of twists and turns and you find yourself questioning everybody’s motives, increasingly suspicious of almost everybody.
The book is a terrific piece of historical fiction with a great sense of time and place. Alison Weatherby brings Bletchley Park alive for a new generation of readers and reveals the vital, life-saving work that was done there.
I loved the book’s focus on women in STEM; the young women at the centre of the story are highly intelligent – experts at logic and puzzle-solving. Pearl and Ellen are terrific characters who hook you in from the start. Pearl is impulsive and passionate, Ellen is more methodical and ordered. Both are brave and daring. I loved watching their friendship develop.
I also enjoyed how the book shines a light on the social conventions of the time and explores the restrictions placed on women because of their gender.
Another aspect of the story that really appealed to me was the portrayal of a neurodivergent lead. I really value diverse and inclusive storytelling and the insights into Ellen’s mind were fascinating.
The Secrets Act is a tense and thrilling mystery story with engaging themes of friendship, trust and loyalty. I recommend it.
Suitable for children aged 11+
Thank you to Chicken House for sending me this book to review.