Read Secret Water by Arthur Ransome Online


The Swallows are marooned with just a little sailing boat for company. Will they survive their chance to become true explorers?      When the Walker family's holiday plans are ruined by Daddy having to work, the whole summer seems lost at sea. But a dull holiday for the children is too miserable to bear so their parents hatch a plan. The Swallows are to be marooned on an iThe Swallows are marooned with just a little sailing boat for company. Will they survive their chance to become true explorers?      When the Walker family's holiday plans are ruined by Daddy having to work, the whole summer seems lost at sea. But a dull holiday for the children is too miserable to bear so their parents hatch a plan. The Swallows are to be marooned on an island with only a blank map and a little sailing dinghy. Their task? To explore and chart the area, avoid the endless mud and survive. And what do they discover? Well, they might not be as alone as they first thought....

Title : Secret Water
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780224606387
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Secret Water Reviews

  • Deborah
    2018-11-22 20:38

    Probably my favourite Ransome (although I've a feeling I've already said that, and I've not finished the series re-read yet). This one, while packed full of adventure, description, and siblings happily camping, is also awesomely geeky. Ever wondered how to accurately map an island? What do you mean, 'no'? Well, wake up and smell the saltmarshes ...But in fact there's not a huge amount of standing around holding surveying poles and taking compass bearings, because where this Ransome scores most is on Conflict. There's loads of it. It shifts about unpredictably, and the only cross word comes from Susan, when Roger rushes the bleeding Bridget back to the camp site, but it's there, rippling under the surface, eddying like the water around the island. It's what makes this Ransome so interesting. Walkers vs the Navy, exploring vs war, savages vs explorers, the Mastadon's internal conflicts, John and Susan vs Titty and Roger ...And at the centre of it all is Bridget, properly on-stage for the first time. I'm not surprised (although I am always disappointed) that we don't get Bridget back again in the last few books. She shows every sign of being an even bigger star than Captain Nancy Blackett, and that wouldn't do at all. Nancy is also slightly outshone in this book by Daisy, the leader of the Eels. The upshot of all this shining is that Peggy is so overshadowed that at the corroborree she disappears altogether (go on, go back and count the savages in the attack). Ransome does well handling a main cast of eight (Winter Holiday, Coot Club, Pigeon Post) but perhaps eleven is just a little too many, even if two of them (Dum and Dee) are basically interchangeable and hardly say anything at all.It's beautifully plotted, as by this stage in the series we've come to expect, and meticulously described. The illustrations are good, too - Ransome is better at scenes than figures, and of course there are the maps. Starting with a map that just consists of vague blobs showing roughly what's land and what's sea, day by day as the explorers do their work the map becomes more and more detailed. It is quite brilliant. But don't just look at the maps: read the story, too. Even geeks can have fun.

  • Kailey (BooksforMKs)
    2018-11-24 20:46

    I love love love every book in this series, and this one is no exception! The Walker children are marooned on an island, and they explore their surroundings, carefully mapping out the terrain. But the local savage tribe of Eels wants them gone, and the explorers have to fight a brutal war when one of their own is captured. It’s all good fun and games! I love every chapter, and every delightful character!

  • Gavin Felgate
    2018-12-01 15:52

    The eighth book in the Swallows and Amazons series opens with the Swallows going to camp on an island, which feels similar to other titles, with one crucial difference, being that for the first time they take younger sister Bridget, previously very much a secondary character, on their adventure with them. Bridget also brings along Sinbad, the kitten introduced in the previous book. The characters are largely the same as they were in the previous books, and I still found John to be annoying because half the time he seems to be saying "Shut up" to younger brother Roger (Roger was always my favourite character, and John just always comes across as the bossy older brother who wants to be in control).In this book, there is an early indication that the island is inhabited by savages, which at first made me think there was going to be a more Robinson Crusoe-style adventure, and the savages' presence is made felt at first by the appearance of a mysterious totem pole in the Swallows' camp.While the subject of savages might sound a bit strong for a kids' novel, once you remember that this story is set just off the English coast, and that you realise that all the "savages" are in fact kids playing a game, this doesn't seem particularly sinister at all, despite the fact that Bridget becomes obsessed with becoming a human sacrifice. The kids end up meeting one of the "savages" (also known as the Eels) quite early on, a boy called Don (or "The Mastodon"), a character who is mostly portrayed as likeable despite the kids' suspicions of him.I'm not sure if the book would be allowed to be written as a kids' book now, not because of the plot involving references to cannibalism, but because of the fact that at one point all of the kids decide to become "blood brothers" with The Mastodon by mixing their blood with each others'. It's probably something that seemed fine when this was written, but with all the modern concerns about AIDs its probably not something that any parent would want their kids to copy.Aside from the threat of savages, who end up not being particularly scary at all, there are a couple of moments of real peril for the characters that provide most of the tension and excitement; you'll probably guess what the first moment of danger will be, as it is signposted a few chapters beforehand.At first I was annoyed; the Amazons, Nancy and Peggy, did not appear in the previous title, and it looked at first that they would be absent from this one, although they were still mentioned. I was quite thankful when about a third of the way into the story, they did show up, and it was really good to have both of them taking part in the adventure. As for the new characters, The Mastodon was the only one I was bothered about, though I'm not sure that any of them are likely to appear in future titles. The story did feel a bit more episodic than previous books, but I found this enjoyable enough that I wanted to keep reading.

  • Maureen E
    2018-12-07 18:57

    by Arthur RansomeOpening line: "The First Lord of the Admiralty was unpopular at Pin Mill."So, I have already documented the depths of my Arthur Ransome obsession love. Oh, the red caps! The sailing lessons! The singing of "Drunken Sailor"! The tacking at recess!Anyway, it's been awhile since I actually read any Ransome. When I saw Secret Water sitting on the new book shelf at the library I snatched it up, especially since I remember it being one of my favorites.And, oh my friends, I love this book. Here is the basic premise: after the events of We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (which is just as exciting as that title leads one to believe) the Walker children are reunited with their parents who have, in the Ransome parent way, devised an Exciting Adventure as a reward. They will all go to a secret location somewhere around Ipswich and, armed with a blank map, set forth to explore unknown regions. Also, they receive a card from Nancy that says "Three million cheers!" in semaphore, so clearly something is afoot.But then the First Lord recalls Captain Walker and he has to go off and it looks like they won't be able to have their fun after all.Of course, that's at the very beginning of the book. Bridget is always a nice addition to the gang and this is one of the first where she figures as a real character (as opposed to Vicky-the-baby). I giggled quite a bit over her human sacrifice part towards the end of the book. I have more sympathy for Susan than I used to. John and Titty are still great favorites. There were some nice additions to the regular gang on this one as well.All in all, I was somewhat startled by how well this held up to a re-read. There was enough understated tension to keep things interesting, while of course you know all along that everything will turn out all right in the end. This is Arthur Ransome after all.(And guys I still love Nancy so much.)Now I'm thinking a grand S&A re-read is in order.Book source: public libraryBook information: Godine, 2005 (first published 1939)

  • Sho
    2018-11-23 13:54

    another excellent adventure with the crew of the Swallow including - finally - Bridgit aka Vicky (yaay) and the Amazons (three million cheers) and some new friends the Eeels (woo hoo)Way back between the wars children had a lot more leeway to do stuff on their own including building fires and camping overnight for days on end without adult supervision. As usual it's based near water, this time the Walker children are "marooned" by their parents (holiday curtailed due to some important stuff at the Admiralty) on an island with a blank map. The plan is to survey the area and complete the map. The Amazons show up, and they meet the Mastodon (Don) followed swiftly by Daisy, Dee and Dum: also known as The Savages and/or the Eels. There are skirmishes, encounters with adults (natives), ginger beer and picnics and a corroboree.And then they all go home.Fantastic stuff.

  • Wendy
    2018-11-17 16:53

    As a child these were my favourite books, I loved stories of adventure and my family holidayed in the English Lake District where these books are set so I knew the places they visited.Whilst on holiday I would imagine meeting the Swallows and Amazons on every lake. At school my friends and I would play Swallows and Amazons. My best friend Sarah and I, being the only ones who were truly obsessed by the books would take charge and we would, of course, be the Amazons. Sarah was always Nancy and I, Peggy. Whichever of our other friends were roped in would be the Swallows. We would tack our imaginary boats across the Lake (the playground) and camp on Wild Cat Island (a mound at one end of the playground with two large elm trees on it).I still read these occasionally and can't wait till my own daughters are old enough for them!Swallows and Amazons for Ever!

  • Patricia
    2018-11-10 16:31

    I found and read the Swallows and Amazons series in my early 20s. I am only sorry I did not find them earlier. Stories of the family's summer adventures are beautifully written, and encourage responsible and creative living. Self reliance, intelligent reasoning skills, and strong imagination with these children provide an excellent backdrop for this series of books, as well as strong roll-models for any youngsters reading them.

  • Tim
    2018-12-07 17:48

    This one never really worked for me.The sudden change in the Nancy character I could understand as John comes across as a total bore, perhaps with reason. It was just that the whole story didn't seem to have the normal Ransome ' I must read the next chapter ' feeling that I normally got when I first read it. It got to the point that I couldn't care less about what happened to any of them!

  • Claire Haeg
    2018-11-13 20:48

    I think this was once one of my favourites, but it is, on reading as an adult, a little tainted by some serious colonial-era racism!

  • Marlowe
    2018-12-07 17:43

    One of the best of the series - a beautifully constructed and paced tale that unfolds like a paper flower.

  • Katie Fitzgerald
    2018-12-09 17:52

    This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.After the real-life adventure of the Walkers in We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea, it was hard for me to imagine how Arthur Ransome could continue to write exciting stories about these characters. After all, was not their journey to Holland on their own in a borrowed boat a final exam of sorts, the challenge toward which all their make-believe had been building? Thankfully, Ransome has a bigger imagination than I do, and his eighth book in the Swallows and Amazons series is just as engaging as any of the others. Though the Walkers more or less mastered sailing in the last book, in Secret Water, they become true explorers. Their father drops them off on an island with a blank map, announces they are marooned, and leaves them there with one assignment: to explore uncharted territory and complete the map. Not long after, the Walkers are joined by the Blacketts, as well as a new group of “savages”, the Eels, who serve as guides among the islands and teach the Swallows and Amazons all about human sacrifice.There are a number of things about Secret Water that demonstrate the development of the characters, especially since the first book. Bridget, who was once known as baby “Vicky” is now a member of the expedition. She’s about four years old, and she constantly reminds her siblings that she is old enough to participate in the same things they do. I think most authors tend to portray youngest siblings like Bridget as annoying tag-alongs who hold everything up and make messes, but Bridget is a formidable little girl, and she has her share of shining moments. Roger and Titty, previously the youngest members of the expedition, are now old enough to venture off on their own and take responsibility for themselves and for Bridget. The spirit of imagination and make-believe is most alive in them this time around, though Nancy also gets excited, especially when it comes time to have a corroboree with the Eels. Susan is still the mother figure, and she plays that role much more completely when Bridget is around than in the past. John, who has in the past been just as much a part of the make-believe as anyone else, seems more fatherly in this book and also more concerned with impressing his own father. While Nancy worries about blood oaths and sacrifices, and Roger and Titty imagine themselves as Israelites and Egyptians, John focuses on the task at hand. We can see the beginnings of manhood in John, and I wonder whether we’ll see as much of him in the rest of the books of the series. Surely at some point Susan and John will outgrow the games of their childhood. I keep wondering whether their coming of age will figure into any of the stories. Secret Water is a great follow-up to the adventure of We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea. The story rewards the Walkers’ safe journey home with another, more controlled opportunity to explore their independence and we get to see just how much they all love, admire, and want to please their dad. The new characters - Don, the Mastodon, and Daisy, Dum, and Dee, the Eels - are a lot of fun, and again completely different from Dot, Dick, or any of the Walkers or Blacketts. I was also amazed that Ransome described things like changes in the tide and sailing routes in language that made it possible for me to imagine them and follow along. As curious as I am about the four remaining books in the series, I am disappointed that I’m two-thirds of the way through it already. I’ve come to really love these characters, and I’ll be sad when I finish the last book. That said, though, I’ve heard that book nine, The Big Six, is a detective story, and I’m really eager to see what that will be like, so I know it won't be long before I jump right into the next one.

  • Simon
    2018-12-04 20:30

    On the whole I think that attitudes expressed in books should be considered according to the prevailing attitudes of the time they were written. There is always a sense of empire, of England's authority over the world reflected in the Swallows and Amazons books, but here, the changing of the main noun from natives to savages seems to cross my comfort line. The pinko twenty first century liberal is offended. The self deprecation is genuine. I know I'm being somehow hypocritical. While I'm applying our own values to the 1930s I may as well express concern for the throw them in the deep end and if they drown they're duffers, irresponsible parenting that leaves three young children cut off on mud-banks by a swirling and rapidly rising tide, only to be spotted and rescued by chance. The capturing of the ship's baby by two boys who lead her, willingly away with them has shadows of a notorious case from recent years.My main reason for not rating this book as highly though, is that it lacks the atmosphere and storyline of the previous books. There is a tension between the characters that may be Ransome grappling with the problem of keeping his protagonists below puberty. He's got a first rate cast, and in this book he is able to develop the characters of Roger and Titty particularly. John is showing more signs of dominant and always dis-satisfied father syndrome, and he's left Susan high and dry in the angel of the hearth sans personality position.The whole series sets very high standards for children's literature. The influence on other writers is immense. We must forgive Mr Ransome if, in his annual updates of the adventures of the Walkers and the Blacketts, he falls short every once in a while. It's still a good deal better than many another writer on a good day.

  • BookSweetie
    2018-11-24 19:48

    The very, very slow starting SECRET WATER is #8 -- and my least favorite so far-- in the Swallow and Amazon Series. In fact, I think this is one I'd suggest kids skip altogether; alternatively, I'd encourage any parent or responsible adult who might be reading this series aloud to a young child or who is aware of a youngster who is reading the series to FIRST read this one him- or her-self and decide on its appropriateness, or if reluctant about "censorship," at least to be aware of the content.I say this because the adventure series tends to be quite realistic, and ordinarily that is a good thing, but this time the realism is a bit disconcerting (if I were putting on a parent hat) given the fact that the Walker children are left (marooned) by their parents for a week on their own to explore and map a COMPLETELY unfamiliar complex salt water/marsh/mudflat island environment with Bridget, the very youngest of the Walker children. A new group of kids called the Eels team up with The Amazons and tie up the Walker kids and make Bridget a "human sacrifice" in their imaginative "savage" war play that also involves a blood-mingling ritual.

  • (F.O.P.) Friend of Pixie
    2018-12-07 16:48

    Logan loves it when they add new characters and in this one, the Swallows are dropped off by their parents in an area of tidal streams and islands, given a rough map, and tasked with filling out the map in detail. So they call themselves The Explorers. Soon they meet other kids, the Eels, but whether they will be friends or foes is unclear. Such fun! Bridget "the ship's baby" comes into her own in this book and she's a scream. "I'm NOT too young to be a human sacrifice!" Up until now, our favorite characters in the series were Titty and Dorothea. But now Bridget is added to the list. And the Mastadon. I must say though that neither Logan or I think we'd want to do much sailing in such an area...way too much mud. Mud, mud, mud.

  • Richard Burton
    2018-12-11 19:55

    This book reunites the Swallows and Amazons in an unfamiliar - and totally unexplored - area which they have to map before being 'rescued' by the Walkers' parents. Secret Water also introduces a new 'gang' of sailing infatuated kids, The Eels, and is also the first adventure featuring the youngest Walker, Bridget (just a baby the very first S&A book). Together the incredibly self-sufficient band of youngsters explore a world of tidal-affected islands, indulge in native ceremonies and wade through mud...lots and lots of mud!Probably not the most engaging book of the series thus far Secret Water is still another masterful voyage through the imagination of children by Arthur Ransome.

  • Brian McLean
    2018-11-17 16:47

    Let's be a little bit picky. The new characters don't really get the vivid treatment we're used to in the series. Even Nancy seems a little subdued. Great additions are Bridget Walker, now old enough to take part, and Mastodon, the local boy. The excitement is there, but perhaps a bit too technical. The cause is not quite up to the life-and-death struggle of We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, for example. As for the Eels, well... I doubt if they'll appear again. Still, definitely still a five, as it's head and shoulders above other children's adventure stories of its period. Within the series it might vie for fourth best after Swallows and Amazons, We Didn't Mean..., Swallowdale, and Pigeon Post.

  • Lucy
    2018-11-21 15:38

    "What are we going to do?" asked Roger."Get her back," panted John*"What are we going to do?" asked Titty."Bust those Eels," jerked Nancy, as she swung forward with her oar. (247)"Can anybody think of anything we want?""We ate the last bit of chocolate yesterday," said Roger."Can't you think of anything but chocolate?" said John."Of course I can," said Roger. "But chocolate's jolly important. All the explorers have it. Scott and Nansen and Columbus...""Not Columbus," said Titty. "It wasn't invented then.""Well, I bet he'd have fairly hogged it if he'd had a chance." (297)

  • Mary Taitt
    2018-11-30 13:53

    This book is not quite as adventurous as some of the other Swallow and Amazon books, but it is very good. There is excitement and danger and no adults nearby. Lots of friendship and warring and good fun. The Swallows are marooned on a "desert island" where there are savages ("the eels") and friends (the Amazons) and given a mission--to map the secret water. It looks like the might not succeed. The ship's baby, Brigitte, volunteers to be a human sacrifice. A good read.

  • Steve Johgart
    2018-11-19 21:30

    Book #8 in the Swallows & Amazon series. This book has less peril in it than most of the others - it is primarily focused on exploring and cartography and sailing and friendship and the wonderful imagination of children. Since I like exploring and cartography, and would find it fun to go on an expedition like the kids in the story, I enjoyed this book a lot. Just as I did when I first read it in fifth or sixth grade.

  • Cheryl
    2018-11-22 18:36

    Ransome mě provedl podstatnou částí dětství, jeho knihy o dobrodružství Amazonek a Vlaštovek jsem hltala jedním dechem a podobné příběhy ráda sama podnikala. Záhadné vody byly první knihou, kterou jsem od něj přečetla a tak ji mám možná ještě o něco radši než ty ostatní.Líbilo se mi, jak dětem byla dána důvěra a mohly vyrazit samy a celé prázdniny si báječně užily, našly nové přátelé a skutečně prozkoumali Záhadné vody...

  • Grillables
    2018-12-03 19:33

    More sedate adventures follow _We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea_, as the Amazons join the Swallows (including ship's baby Bridget) and the newly introduced Eels in exploring unknown islands and mudflats. Some well-drawn interactions between the groups, but some of the characters are a bit one-dimensional and cartography just didn't seem exciting after being blown to sea.

  • Stephen Dawson
    2018-12-03 15:50

    Following straight on from We Didn't Mean to Go To Sea, the eighth book in the series once again combines sailing, exploration and what seems extraordinary freedom/independence for young children, this time set on the Essex coast - another favourite of Arthur Ransome. Not the best of the series, but still very entertaining.

  • Grace Sargeant
    2018-12-09 18:39

    Good book by the same author of Swallows and Amazons, recommended.

  • Kathryn McCary
    2018-11-23 14:34

    Eighth of the Swallows & Amazons series, and my least favorite: no D's, no Coots, and the new lot of children who replace them are (with one exception) nowhere near as engaging. Still a good read, though.

  • M Wiegers
    2018-11-16 18:56

    This one seems a return to the first book in the series. Ella continues to love the character of Nancy, while I favor Roger for his appetite, and in this case, his headbutt. Love the newly introduced character, Don (Mastodon).

  • Kate B
    2018-11-14 15:42

    I loved all the Swallows and Amazons books as a child. I was envious of their freedom to go off without adults for days on end; did parents really encourage that in the 1930s? My parents were children in the 1950s (so only a generation later) and had to be back before tea.

  • David R. Godine
    2018-12-06 21:44

    "Once more the Swallows and the Amazons have a magnificent exploring adventure; once more Arthur Ransome has kept a complete record of their experiences, terrors, triumphs and set it down with the cunning that casts a spell over new children and old."— Times Literary Supplement

  • Claire
    2018-11-10 16:45

    Childhood favorite. I reread one from this series every Summer.

  • Lauchlin
    2018-11-18 15:36


  • Melinda
    2018-11-11 16:54

    Ah, if only all juvenile literature was this fun and literate!