Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA); and DaVinci Eye Award Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards
“My first “fantasy” novel was great fun to write.”
Available for $20.00
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, it gracefully transports the reader to a place and time.
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 disparate subjects and issues, such as slavery, human rights, and other harsh realities of 19th-century South Carolina, together 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 woods. But, in the end, it is up to her to decide between her realities.
The Secret Child is finding a special niche in schoolroom settings as well as bedside tables – blurring the educational lines between literature, art, history, and even some science classes. It has become a popular book club selection and a sought after gift book.
According to the author: “I started with an actual event that happened over 150 years ago near where I live, and then just thought ‘what if…’ The setting involves places I walk in and visit almost every day. The rest is pure imagination. I am, however, a real believer in “Fairies” and creatures of the forest, although I’ve never been fortunate enough to actually see or talk to one. But I sense their nearness when I am in their midst – as I hope you will you as you travel within the pages of this book.”
“I finished The Secret Child yesterday and it 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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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!”
“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!”
“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.”
Photographer, Poet, Writer
“The Secret Child is enchanting, bewitching, and spoke to my soul!”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“I had a feeling that The Secret Child was going to be a book that would knock us over … but that was an understatement. Mercy! It’s the most beautiful, poignant story I’ve read in years. My staff are taking turns reading it now and with each passing page, you can see the emotions flitting across their faces and hear their “aaahs.” Most of us have read or heard the Irish myths, the legends and haunting tales of the fairies, but never with such strong emotion, with such loving detail. From the first lilting song from Marika’s lips, to the lullaby in her Gaelic tongue, to her love of the benevolent Joseph, the depth of emotion from one child’s love could teach the world a lesson in humility. Marti Healy has written a book that will transcend time. This book will stay in my mind for many years and I will treasure reading it again many times in the future.”
Jeanette W. Forrester,
Owner, Peb’s Book Store
“I stayed up late last night to finish The Secret Child …I thought it was excellent! The descriptions, the poetry, the feeling, the plot … it was just great! Beautifully written and designed. I am totally impressed!”
history teacher, retired
“As I finished reading The Secret Child I was sooo sad the adventure was over! I felt totally immersed! It is truly a gentle, beautifully visual, deep book. There were definitely pivotal moments in the book for me personally – real “aha” moments. The book itself is a tactile treat, with highly enjoyable design and graphics throughout.”
“I absolutely loved The Secret Child. It’s a beautiful, tender, sweet, exciting, imaginative treasure. It really is a fantastic adventure. Marti Healy has such a gift for writing.”
The Secret Child is truly a gentle, beautifully visual, deep book! I had not known what to expect in reading this book but to feel totally immersed in Marika’s world was so unexpected! This book completely captures the pre-Civil war moods and mores through Marika’s eyes – but the lessons of tolerance and integrity are so relevant to our world today! Though there are fairies, it is not a fairytale … the issues are complex, sometimes brutal, but Marika bridges grief with growth, pain with compassion, and wrongs with powerful rights. I loved reading this book!”
Kimberlayne (from a Barnes & Noble online review)
“The Secret Child is one of the best books I have ever read. It is amazing!”
Stella Rounsefell, 8th Grade
Available for $20.00