Monday, 4 April 2016

The Secret Life of Daisy Fitzjohn - Book Review

The Secret life of Daisy Fitzjohn
Tania Unsworth
MG Adventure
UK Publisher: Orion Children’s Books


Eleven-year-old Daisy has never seen the outside world.

She has lived with her mother in their family home, the splendid but crumbling Brightwood Hall. But when one day her mother doesn't come home and a strange man arrives at the house, Daisy must use her wits to survive.

The enthralling story of a young girl’s physical and mental journey is beautifully imagined by Tania Unsworth, and readers will be completely transported by the unique magic of Daisy’s world. 


When her mum leaves one morning and never returns, eleven-year-old Daisy Fitzjohn has no idea what to do. She has never stepped one foot outside her family’s estate of Brightwood Hall, and the only ‘people’ she knows are the portraits that cover the walls. 

So when a strange man appears with plans to turn her home into a high-end-spa, Daisy must do everything in her power to stop it from happening. But that man has darker intentions, and with only her wits and the house rat, Tar, to help her, Daisy will need all her courage if she is to survive long enough to find her mum…

This was nice little read, and one I think girl’s under eleven would really enjoy. Full of adventure and the fantastical elements of the main characters imagination, this is a story of family, magic and one girl’s determination to stay alive.

Daisy is a fascinating heroine. Having grown up with no real people but her mother for companionship, she talks to everything with a lifelike shape. Portraits, topiaries, animals and even the characters from books—yet they also talk back. However the story is written in such a way that it is impossible to tell of these conversations are actually happening, or are just in Daisy’s imagination. It is this aspect that makes this story magical. 

However since most of the characters in this book come from Daisy’s head (at least I think they do) they make for a interesting and random bunch. A talking rat, the old shrubbery horse, the people in the paintings and of course, a guide/explorer from Daisy’s great uncles journal. Not only do each of the characters have unique personalities and traits, but they all offer their own (often unhelpful) advice on how Daisy should handle various situations. All in all, they are quite comical.

However this book also has more sinister elements that made the book extremely interesting. Daisy’s mum, traumatised by the loss of her family, has kept Daisy hidden from the real world. And because the Fitzjohn family were so wealthy, with a huge house and lots of space, it made it possible for Daisy’s mum to literally shut out the world and live in limbo with her daughter. 

In this story we now see how her mum’s illness has impacted upon Daisy’s life, and making Daisy unable to deal with the real world. However this story is also about Daisy finding her courage as her eyes are opened to life outside of Brightwood hall.

Combined together, all these elements make for an intriguing plot that putted along at a nice pace. Overall, a nice, pre-teen read for those who love delving into anothers imagination and having an adventure. 3 stars!


  1. What a cute sounding book!I don't think I've read a middle grade novel in... years.

    Oh my.

    I should. Great review! :)

  2. Hey Lola - yeah I'm on a huge MG kick right now. I was surprised by how many great novels there are now for this age group. I just read THE DREAMSNATCHER by Abi Elphinstone - defiantly my favourite one to date!

  3. I love middle grade read, they make such a nice change from all the heavy YA that's around at the moment and this sounds so incredibly lovely. They always seem to blur the lines between imagination and magical realism so well. Wonderful review, definitely going to check this one out <3

  4. Hey Diva, I know exactly what you mean! With MG you can have awesome adventures without all the drama you get with a YA. They make for fun, quick reads that can be really gripping. Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. Hey, AWESOME review!! I don't usually read the MG genre, but this one has definitely caught my interest! The combination of plot elements is very, very intriguing, and I'm sure loving that cover! Also, Daisy sounds like a great, likable character. In short, this is going on my Goodreads TBR shelves!

    Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog! :)

    BTW, I had not remembered following your blog, but it turns out that I've been a GFC follower for a while now. Well, I need to visit more often! I LOVE your blog design!! I MUCH prefer reading blogs with dark backgrounds, and yours is so lovely! Hope you're having a WONDERFUL Saturday!! :)

  6. Maria: Hey, yes this was one of the more interesting MGs I've read this year. It's exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a pre-teen!

    And glad you like the design - to be honest I was thinking of changing it to something brighter, but the inner goth in me is protesting lol