Review: The Secret of the Purple Lake

Book Title: The Secret of the Purple Lake (available here)

Author: Yaba Badoe

Illustrator: Gbolahan Adams

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Publication Date: Oct 2017

Most Suitable For: Upper KS2 / Lower KS3

Reviewed By: Kirsty Crommie, Class Teacher

The Secret of the Purple Lake is a glorious book and I can honestly say I have never come across anything quite like it. It is clever, beautiful and deeply thought-provoking and it is probably the only book that as soon as I have finished it, I had to pick it up and read it again straight away.

It is a collection of fairy tales that span the globe and that are interlinked in different ways, the full extent of the connections only becoming clear at the end of the book. I found myself literally gasping at various points as the links gradually became apparent.

We start by hearing the story of Ajuba, the Fisherman’s daughter, whose father has died at sea off the coast of Ghana. From that moment things start to go wrong in her seaside village and she finds herself being instructed to retrieve her dead father’s bones from the bottom of the sea in order to bring peace back to her people. We are then taken on a journey from Ghana to Orkney, and from Spain to Norway and Thailand, discovering one fantastical fairy story after another, each one revealing a little bit more of the bigger picture. Small characters we meet in one tale become central characters in another and we are able to delve further into their stories.

We meet an array of wonderful creatures along the way, including Imoro the magic elephant, and we witness many transformations as we follow the characters on their journeys until everything finally knits together at the end.

The Secret of the Purple Lake is, on one level, an exquisite collection of fairy tales and folklore cleverly interlinked. The stories are wild and fun and beautifully written. There are also many themes running through the book that give it a real depth and which merit giving it a second read! One of the themes that stuck for me was about free will, choice and respect. Many of the characters are put in positions that they did not choose themselves, positions that quite often put them in danger. The relationships between the characters is another area for discussion, with some questionable characters thrown into the mix.

The Secret of the Purple Lake is an astounding piece of writing and is one of the most intriguing, beautiful and clever books I have ever read. The learning opportunities are endless and the sheer enjoyment of reading this masterpiece cannot be measured.


You can order The Secret of the Purple Lake online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Kirsty for reviewing it.

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