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When Secrets Set Sail

Written by Sita Brahmachari

Key Stage 3 Family / Home Stories Horror & Ghost Stories Historical Fiction

LoveReading View on When Secrets Set Sail

Ghosts and secrets combine in this fascinating mix of family drama and forgotten history

Set in a perfectly realised East London, the story begins as newly adopted Imtiaz arrives in Usha’s home. Initially misunderstandings abound between the two girls. Sadly, Usha’s beloved gran, Kali Ma has recently passed away. But when first Kali Ma and then other ghosts appear and task the girls to right a past wrong and reveal the hidden secrets of their house, which is also a refugee community centre and under imminent threat of closure, they and their new Roma friend Cosmo must work together. There is rich historical detail in this  complex but very rewarding and thought-provoking story crafted in delicate and thoughtful prose. We learn about the fate of Indian Ayahs travelling to care for children of the British Raj on the long voyages back to the UK and then being abandoned here and  also about the first female Asian GP’s and the struggles of the Windrush generation. In an interview the author reveals that there has been a recent campaign for a Blue Plaque to commemorate the real-life House of the Ayahs. This is a skilfully woven narrative with a shameful look at just some of the racist colonial attitudes of Britain both past and present and real tension and adventure as the children race to unravel the mystery and save the refuge and a beloved family home.

Joy Court

When Secrets Set Sail Synopsis

Secrets from the past are the keys to the future...if two children can find them.

Bold adventure, timely themes and breath-taking writing from award-winning author, Sita Brahmachari.

Usha is devastated when her grandmother Kali Ma passes away. Then straight-talking Imtiaz arrives - her new adoptive sister - and the two girls clash instantly. They both feel lost. That is until Kali Ma's ghost appears...with a task for them. Immy's and Usha's home is full of history and secrets. Many years ago it was The House of the Ayahs - for those nannies who couldn't return to their Indian homeland - and Kali Ma made a promise she couldn't keep. She can't pass on to the other side until the girls fulfil it.

Today, Usha and Immy's over-worked parents run the house as a home for refugees, but eviction threatens. The precious documents that could save them are lost. As the house slowly fills up with ghosts, that only Usha and Imtiaz can see, the girls realise they have more to save than just one grandmother's ghost.

With help from their new friend Cosmo, Usha and Immy must set off on a quest through London, accompanied by two bickering ghosts, working together to find a series of objects that shine a magical light on their family's past and hold the clues to securing their future. If they can set the secrets of generations free, will they be in time to save their home?

Endorsed by Amnesty International. *Sita Brahmachari is a World Book Day author for 2021 with gorgeous short story, The River Whale!*

When Secrets Set Sail Press Reviews

'Truly unforgettable ... deserves to be read and studied by all' - Onjali Q. Rauf, bestselling author of The Boy at the Back of the Class 

Book Information

ISBN: 9781510105430
Publication date: 20th August 2020
Author: Sita Brahmachari
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 304 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 3
Topics: Family / Home Stories, Horror & Ghost Stories, Historical Fiction, Racism / Multi-Culturalism

About Sita Brahmachari

Sita Brahmachari won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize with her debut Artichoke Hearts and is one of the most interesting and important voices in children's books today. Her latest novel, Tender Earth was awarded an honour by the International Board of Books for Young People. She was the 2015 Booktrust's Writer in Residence and is the current Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Sita is also an Amnesty International ambassador. She lives in London with her family. Photo credit Martin Levenson

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