Devin Drake and the Family Secret by R. M. Clark

Devin Drake and the Family Secret by R. M. Clark
Publisher: Pen It! Publications
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Another day, another birthday, right? Not quite for Devin Drake. A few days after his twelfth birthday, he loses his new drone in the creepiest place on earth, a cemetery. While retrieving it, he realizes he cannot only hear, but see ghosts. Devin soon finds out that necromancy runs in the Drake family. However, before he can learn everything about his new-found power, a classmate begs him to find out why her deceased grandfather keeps contacting her through cryptic texts, random pennies, and birds of all things. Thinking it’ll be a quick case; Devin agrees to help her. However, he soon learns that spirits don’t always make things easy and just when he thinks he’s solved one clue, another one pops up creating at least ten more questions than the last. Will Devin get the hang of his new-found gift before time runs out? Or will Eva’s grandfather continue to lead Devin on what could be considered a wild goose chase?

Food brings everyone together.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that described all sorts of delicious Greek dishes. While I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover for themselves why it was important to include these passages, there were clues about that to be found fairly early on in the plot. They simultaneously made me hungry and made me wonder how they were connected to everything else that was going on. Figuring that all out was one of several reasons why I gave this a perfect five-star rating.

The mystery storyline was well written and exciting. I enjoyed coming up with various theories about why Dmitri’s spirit was trying to communicate with his granddaughter and what he might have wanted her to know or do. There were exactly the right number of clues to keep me guessing while still leaving plenty of room for plot twists later on.

Mr. Clark put a lot of effort into character development in this book, and it showed. Devin was such a quintessential twelve-year-old who was happy to play with his drone one moment and deeply irritated with his talkative and sometimes hyper eight-year-old sister the next. He felt like a real person to me, and I loved seeing him slowly mature as a result of his experiences. This was a pattern that was subtly repeated with a few of the people closest to Devin, too, in ways that were perfect for its tween audience, and it reminded me why middle grade fiction can be so rewarding.

Devin Drake and the Family Secret was one of the best mysteries I’ve read so far this summer. I highly recommend it to kids and adults alike.