Book One of the Secret Series, a trilogy by Ellie Jay
“Do what you have to do to survive in a world where everyone is your enemy“.
Antonin Jelennski is a young, ambitious police officer originally from Moscow who has been given his first solo undercover assignment in the town of Yaroslavl, 173 miles away from home. He is tasked with investigating the Volkovs, a local family allegedly running mysterious criminal activities – an actual plan for world domination nonetheless. Despite receiving help from the inside by Daryia, daughter of the family patriarch, Anton will soon find himself in over his head, the investigation made more challenging by an omnipresent, omniscient, viciously persistent Vladimir Volkov, his huge progeny and a mole within the local police department, putting Anton’s own family in mortal danger. Will justice prevail or was it too much to handle for our hero?
Secrets of the Volkovs is the first book of the Secret Series trilogy by English author Ellie Jay, a fast-paced story masterfully built through robust dialogues, very easy to read and written in an informal, unpretentious language that is honestly a breath of fresh air.
The book could probably have done with an additional reading and further editing, as typos and repetitions sometimes stand in the way of fluency. Descriptions could also be improved, to make the story more powerful. For example, there is hardly any reference to the space the main characters move within, except for a couple of brief, generic descriptions, leaving the reader to figure it out by themselves. The story could actually take place anywhere in the world, which is a shame, as the Russian winter setting is an interesting narrative choice.
Character development could also be improved: characters do have goals, face obstacles and conflict, but we hardly know anything about their background, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, or motivations informing their actions and decisions, elements that could give them further depth.
The overall impression is that Ellie Jay sees the world she is painting so clearly and vividly she sometimes forgets that the only way we can experience it as readers is through her own words. We strongly believe this book could have been absolutely magnificent if the author took more time to scratch beyond the surface of the story.
Having said that, the Volkovs saga does not stop here, so we cannot wait to tackle the rest of the series!