Review Blog

Sep 17 2012

Ned Kelly's Secret by Sophie Masson

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Scholastic Australia, 2012. ISBN 9781742830322.
Highly recommended. Ned Kelly's Secret is the second of Sophie Masson's novels to focus on Ned Kelly. The first, The Hunt for Ned Kelly, concerns itself with the more familiar Kelly Gang period; Ned's last stand at Glenrowan and his all too familiar demise. While Masson's assured writing and careful research make the first book a worthwhile read, it is this second book, a prequel that for me holds much greater promise. Ned Kelly's Secret explores the teenage Ned Kelly's family life and his seemingly inevitable slide into crime in a believable and engaging way.
Masson uses a twist on a now tried and tested formula, the teenage spy (Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider, Charlie Higson's young James Bond, Robert Muchamore's Cherub bunch or Eoin Colfer's juvenile super villain Artemis Fowl) which is sure to delight. She employs historical figures and events from the Kelly history to weave a narrative that explores the factors that led Ned into the life of an outlaw. We gain an insight into the tensions between squatters and selectors, police and citizens, the English and the Irish in colonial Australia. Well-paced and extremely readable, Ned Kelly's Secret is a welcome addition to this prolific and consistent author's collection.
Stephen Bull

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