Secret Water is the eighth novel in the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome. There are 12 books in the series in total.
Secret Water focuses on just the Walker children, as they are “marooned” in Hamford Water, which is an area of tidal salt marshes and low-lying islands. It is the first book where Bridget – formally known as Fat Vicky, the baby in Swallows and Amazons, is old enough to join in on the adventures.
I think Bridget is my new favourite character; everything she said put a smile on my face, and the interactions between her and Roger are so sweet and funny.
In my review of Pigeon Post, the sixth book in the series, I said:
‘Pigeon Post is Ransome’s funniest book yet.’
However, I no longer think this is the case.
Ransome’s light-hearted narration, paired with the humour of Bridget and Roger is just fantastic. As he is no longer the youngest, Roger tries to model more grownup behaviour for Bridget (and fails). Bridget is teased for her babylike innocence, because she is so new to the Walkers’ games. For example, she is so excitable and keen to be a human sacrifice for the children’s game – even though she has no idea what a sacrifice is!
Secret Water is a new kind of adventure for the Walker children as they are left “marooned” on an island and they are forbidden to sail anywhere by their parents. This is an understandable decision, after the chaos that arose when the children were last left unsupervised in a sailing boat in We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea. I liked this, as it meant the book was more focused on exploring territory and describing the surrounding scenery, unlike some of the other books, which contain a lot more technical language about sailing that I just don’t understand.
As well as the new setting, another new addition to Secret Water are the new children the Walkers meet and make friends with: Don, Daisy, Dum and Dee. I wasn’t particularly bothered about these new characters, as I think the eight book in a series is quite late to be introducing new characters, and I didn’t think there was anything particularly interesting or exciting about them.
Nonetheless, I still greatly enjoyed Secret Water and it’s definitely one of my favourites in the series.