Monday, February 5, 2018

Book Review: 'The Grotto's Secret' by Paula Wynne

American author Paula Wynne began her career in writing after moving to rural Andalusia, Spain. This journey/change of location was documented: Paula and her husband Ken starred in the BBC Show, ‘Escape to the Continent’, which showed their quest to live in Spain. Though this is her first novel, Paula, has won acclaim for the Writers’ Resource Series – ‘A-Z Writers’ Character Quirks’, ‘Pimp My Fiction’, ‘Create a Successful Website,’ and ‘Pimp My Site’.

Paula’s novel, THE GROTTO’S SECRET, is a ‘conspiracy mystery thriller’ and she does indeed know how to spin a yarn that involves the reader from page one. ‘London, Present Day The note met the usual conditions. A veiled message on the envelope. A torn piece of paper. Scrawled handwriting with a cryptic letter. Kelby Wade often received puzzling letters from aspiring entrepreneurs. She’d found this one on her seat as she’d returned from refreshing her face on the early flight from Dublin. Her heart skipped a beat at the familiar phrase scribbled across the envelope: Never, never give up. Kelby sucked in her breath, snatched up the envelope and slipped into her seat. Although it didn’t have her name on it, she knew those words were intended for her. Since her parents’ death, her goal had been to look after her brother Gary. His life was determined by the essence of perseverance. Hers by regret. Before he left, he’d given her a gift, telling her to grab the chance to face her future without remorse. What had happened to him tore her heart apart. She put her glasses on and pulled the paper out of the envelope: I’ve stumbled upon an ancient secret with incredible powers. Someone is killing those who know. I won’t give up until I find the truth. Please help me save them. Kelby had a sudden eerie sensation that Gary was watching her. She spun around. A man stared at her from a few rows behind. She met his steady gaze. Energy radiated from his tanned face, but there was no message in his eyes to suggest he might have left the note.’ Without further probing we have a finger on the pulse and direction of the novel – except for the well-paced twists that offer background and purpose of the story’s drive.

Paula offers a fine synopsis: ‘A healing herb kept secret for centuries. A TV show host who stands to lose everything. Castile de Granada, 1492: Risking her life, Spanish author Ana-MarĂ­a de Carbonela vowed to keep an unknown yet powerful healing herb’s location hidden. It remained a secret …Until now. TV show host Kelby Wade is forced into the search when her niece is targeted by the relentless assassin who killed her brother. She is pursued on a perilous quest, from a grotto in rural Andalusia to a bizarre hospital in Surrey, to uncover the mystery found between crumbling sheets of parchment in the ruins of a rural Spanish farm. In a race against a conspiracy who want the herb’s power, she struggles to piece together the puzzle and follow the trail her brother left to trace the mysterious plant before the deadly conspirators locate it. It’s only a matter of time before the ancient secret gets exposed ...’

Able to put this book down before finishing it? Doubt it. Propulsive and rich in imagery and tension, THE GROTTO’S SECRET has it is spades. Grady Harp, February 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.