A Gathering of Secrets

By Linda Castillo
Adult Fiction, 2018
Reviewed by Susan Gamberg, Youth Services

In the small Amish community of Painters Mill, Pennsylvania, a historic barn burns down during the middle of the night. Police Chief Kate Burkholder, who grew up Amish, is called in to investigate. The body of teenager Daniel Gingerich is discovered in a locked room in the barn and it seems he was burned alive. At the beginning of her investigation, Daniel appears to be a model Amish teenage boy but as she delves deeper into the community Daniel’s clean reputation among the other teenagers begins to tarnish. They are keeping secrets and Kate then begins to think this case is looking more like murder than an accident.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman
Adult Fiction, 2013
Reviewed by Ann Doubleday, Adult Services

To all you Neil Gaiman fans, I realize I’ve come late to the party. But to those non-fantasy readers like myself, I’d like to tell you why this novel is worth a try. Yes, it has its share of magic and ghoulish creatures from other worlds. But it is also a powerfully realistic portrait of a child’s inner world. There may be monsters out there — suicide, a father’s violent rage, an extra-marital affair — that threaten the only sense of home and safety a child knows.  But there is also true magic: the yellow glow of daffodils, the warmth of a hot bath, the creamy milk fresh from the cow. For the child, these small pleasures can be enough to feel complete happiness even while knowing he will eventually need to go out into the storms that may be raging around him. All the terrors and wonders of a child in a world ruled by adults are here.

For a special treat, listen to the outstanding audio version read by the author. Under the spell of Gaiman’s magic, I was completely transported back into a childhood world that is often nearly forgotten.