My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Heavenstone Secrets features the most naïve, easily controlled, not too bright protagonist and it took mental muscles just to move through the pages without too much grimace.
Semantha Heavenstone, 14 is trapped under her controlling sister’s watchful gaze and the whispers she hears through the dark mansion inherited from her grandfather holds more darkness and more mystery than what anyone could fathom.
Semantha’s sister Cassie Heavenstone is very critical of everyone has a reply for everytime Semantha says something dumb: “Christmas trees, Semantha. Christmas trees.”
But things gets worse for the lovely Heavenstone family and Semantha in particular.
Their mother gets pregnant at 42 and Cassie, the ever intelligent, super clever 16 year old, literally develops a hate for her mother but she vies for her father’s affections and cares not for her own mother’s health.
Second, Cassie begins to ask Semantha deeply personal questions about boys and sex and Semantha, in fear of her sister takes her crazy advice because “Cassie knows best”
Third, a tragedy happens and Cassie’s behavior gets worse. She manipulates the family with astuteness, her clever words and heavy knowledge(I swear, I never knew a sixteen year old could be so mature and scary!) Then she begins to wear their mother’s dresses, her jewelry, and fixes her hair like their mother too…
She thinks she is Semantha’s mother and things get even more weird for the Heavenstones.
Okay, I hate bringing up spoilers so I will say this: Semantha did have a way out from under her sister’s thumb and that could have been by telling someone the truth. But she didn’t and after reflecting on each character in the book, I find it is everyone’s fault why Semantha eventually ends up the way she does at the end.
For one thing, her father much like the one in the March family series was easily controlled by his older daughter’s words. The mother was simply weak- she was no backbone for Semantha. Their uncle Perry, although I liked him more than anyone else in the story- could have done sixty percent more to help Semantha. Then there’s Semantha- asking dumb questions to Cassie, defending her when Uncle Perry wants to know why she is afraid of Cassie, feeling in fear all the time and then she simply just does not think at all.
I hate to say this of a character in real life or fiction- but Semantha brought all of this pain on herself. Hopefully in Secret Whispers she will not be as weak or stupid.