The Secret Child
A fantasy of ageless appeal.
A timeless tale, written in a very lyrical style, The Secret Child appeals to a wide range of ages; one of those “favorite” books cherished by more than one generation.
Set in 1855, the central character is a thirteen-year-old girl, Marika – an Irish Traveller – running between her thribli, or clan, in Boston and her arranged marriage with a gypsy leader named Jacko in the Midlands of South Carolina.
Marika’s five-year-old brother Danny is with her, but falls ill and dies on the journey. Cautiously, she allows herself to form relationships with a free black man, Joseph, and a Quaker woman, Maggie.
The book interweaves highly unexpected subjects and issues, such as slavery, human rights, and other harsh realities of 19th century South Carolina, along with a mystical, light-and-shadows world of “Fairies” who inhabit a nearby heavily forested Carolina Bay.
The Fairies of the Carolina Bay have an ancient Celtic history; no tiny wings and fairy dust, these are true spirits of the woods. The Fairies accept Marika to live among them until she can determine what she wants for her future.
Marika is pursued relentlessly and cruelly by the gypsy Jacko, befriended with great loyalty by Joseph and Maggie, and protected unwaveringly by the spirits of the forest. But, in the end, it is up to her to decide between her realities.
This book was chosen as a 2010 "Okra Picks" by the Southern Independant Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and was a finalist as Southern Book of the Year. It was further named as a finalist for two Eric Hoffer Book Awards - in the general fiction category and for cover design (the da Vinci Eye Award).
To order this book, please visit your local independent bookstore or www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, or www.indiebound.org.
Now also available as an e-book.
“The Secret Child is wonderful. Such a great concept. Fresh! Combining all the tribes: fairy, traveler, Quaker, black and white on the eve of the Civil War where hard choices are made, and every character is credible and well crafted, is an achievement. I love this book.”
~ Wanda Jewell – Executive Director, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
“Lovely, magical, full of expectation. The language itself is a kind of Elvin song; surrounded by secrets, whispers and sings like the wind. There is both magic and menace. The suspense is strong, the relief of the quiet moments a balm that transforms the reader to another world – a magical world, full of beauty and danger. The narrative structure delivers perfect moments that invite a pause, reflection, tears. The pacing is wonderful; the plotting is intricate and satisfying. Wonderful, memorable characterization. Haunting atmosphere. A terrific book.”
~ Sally Farris – Librarian, retired
“Marti Healy is an exceptional storyteller, able to move between the boundaries of time and space with ease, carving a rich picture of the characters and places. This is a story that captures the essence of loss, compassion, and possibility.”
~ Patrick Green – Author, professor of creative writing
“I took The Secret Child with me to the beach last week and could not put it down. Love it! What an incredibly beautiful and fanciful story. A fairy tale for grownups (and can't we all use more of those in our lives?) One of the most enthralling and enjoyable reads of the summer, if not the year.”
~ Peg DeBruhl
“As I sit here with tears in my eyes after finishing The Secret Child, I really don’t know where to begin. I thought I would save the book to read on our Montana trip next month. Then, I decided I might just read a couple of pages to peak my interest. Well, lo and behold, I couldn’t put it down. I loved this book!”
~ Phyllis Loftis
“On a recent trip from Dallas to South Carolina, my dear friend gave me a copy of The Secret Child. Such delightful reading! This must become a movie – so great for both youth and adults!”
~ Jacquiline Womack
“I have just finished my first reading of The Secret Child. I am awed by the magical quality of the work. It represents so much that is hopeful in a world that seems to lack hope. This is such a large story in a small package. But it is a complete story -- beginning, middle and end – with each segment holding its own set of secrets and mystery and spells. It held me. I was enthralled. The characters are totally believable and I loved the inclusion of so many authentic allusions. The descriptive imagery, the powerful poetic elements in a prose setting – one could extract paragraphs and lines and create an entire book of discursive poetry. What a voice! I think it will become a famous book.
“This is the perfect read for those who enjoy beautiful imagery, lyrical prose and believable fantasy – all in a great story. Marti Healy and The Secret Child have returned me to the fantastic world of reverie, dreams, fantasy and innocent wishfulness that I loved as a boy.”
~ George Buggs, Photographer, Poet, Writer
“The Secret Child is enchanting, bewitching, and spoke to my soul!”
~ Amanda Oliver
“Reading The Secret Child was like licking the frosting from a bowl or wearing something soft next to my skin ... hard to capture the feeling, but smooth, relaxing, and gentle. I keep replaying scenes from it in my mind, seeing the places and times. With its purity and innocence, I felt a real spirituality to the story. It’s appealing to a wide variety of age groups.”
~ Nancy Roskam, Teacher
“The Secret Child is an amazing story imagined around a true event. I loved the use of Irish Travellers, their language and customs ... and the wonderful idea that there may be Fairies living in the Carolina Bay! This is an unusual and adventuresome read for everyone.”
~ Sally Barrett, Aiken County Historical Museum Gift Store
“I love The Secret Child! It’s imagery and style can compete with any of the classics. It is a fanciful and tender story to fill the senses and imagination ... a captivatingly beautiful and mystical tale that provides the reader with a magical perspective of the unknown past; one set against the realities of the 1850s South, yet filled with fairytale beauty, undying loyalty, and unforgettable love.”
~ Jean Covington, writer