The Secret of the Treasure Keepers l has been long listed for the Young Quills Award 2023 (a competition for adult authors of historical fiction written for children and young people), in the category for readers aged 10-13 years.
It is set in the winter of 1948 and centres on the character of Ruth, a young girl living with her mother in London. They are trying to manage on little money and meagre food supplies. Ruth’s mum, Harriett, is trying to get some paid work at the British Museum in her chosen field of archaeology, but is being refused by her officious boss, Mr Knight.
An unanswered phone in Mr Knight’s office stirs Ruth into picking it up, thus setting into action a trip to a remote farm in Ely to find treasure. What will they find at Rook Farm? Mrs Sterne, her son Joe and their land girl Audrey are struggling to survive and keep the farm going. Will the treasure that is found be what is needed to help them? And why is Joe so suspicious and unwelcoming towards Ruth and her mum?
This story has a great storyline based on real archaeological finds in Suffolk and Peterborough. Ruth and Joe’s relationship is central to the story, but there are also many other interesting characters whom we meet along the way and who feed in to the mystery. I found myself not wanting to put the book down until I’d found answers out.
The Secret of the Treasure Keepers is a well deserved nominee for this award. I am sure that after reading this book children will be interested to find out more about the world of archaeology and the treasure that has been found in various places around the UK. I also hope that they will be encouraged to read AM Howell’s other three novels: ‘The Garden of Lost Secrets’, ‘The House of One Hundred Clocks‘ and ‘Mystery of the Night Watchers’.
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