The Secret Keepers was over 500 pages long, I probably wouldn't have requested it (I was enticed by the pitch paragraph on the library's website page of newest acquisitions). I'm not opposed to lengthy books, but I tend to doubt the author will be able to carry off the required intensity in a tween book to keep the reader reading. Then again, this author is well-known for his Mysterious Benedict Society series (a series I've never attempted). I read the book in four big chunks of time and kept turning pages despite the length.
Eleven-year-old Reuben lives in New Umbra with his widowed mother. It is a town full of mystery, ruled by the powerful and unknown entity called "The Smoke." This alleged ghost/monster works through The Counselor to police the city with henchmen, known as The Directions. When Reuben finds an antique watch, he cannot begin to understand the world of trouble it will bring him. The watch possesses a magical property and The Smoke is desperate to get his hands on it. Reuben must unravel the secret of the watch and decide what to do with it, while trying to keep it out of the hands of the tyrannical leader.
I cannot say I will recommend this book to my youngest to attempt to read (even though he is usually quite drawn to lengthy books). While it was entertaining, much of it felt unbelievable. For instance, at the very beginning of the story, Reuben acquires the watch after wedging himself between two walls and walking with his hands and feet up the side of the buildings for three stories, then swinging himself gracefully onto a ledge at this height. Hmm. The watch renders him invisible, but at the same time also renders him blind. Yet, he is seemingly able to maneuver around everywhere he desires to go, despite this lack of sight. Hmm. He enters a cave at a dangerous time and yet is whisked away from danger by his tiny female friend, Penny. Shwew!
It wasn't a bad read. It was clean. It was, indeed, full of secrets and traps and legends and danger. I was truly caught up in the story. The children triumph despite obstacles. Yet, somehow, I just ended with a ho-hum feeling for the book.