The Deceivers: Graystone Secrets, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Deceivers: Graystone Secrets, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Likable tweens explore another world in intriguing thriller.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Deceivers offers opportunities to talk about physics, family dynamics, and propaganda. 


Positive Messages

Family members who support one another can accomplish seemingly insurmountable tasks. Persistence and flexibility are extremely useful character traits. The work of the good can defeat the forces of evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each Greystone kid respects and supports all the others. Chess, Emma, and Finn never give up looking for their mother. They are brave, bright, resourceful, and friendly children, but with some hidden edges. They value their friendship with the prickly Natalie.

Violence & Scariness

Little violence until the climax, when the kids ar chased through passageways by soldiers, with some distant gunfire. Two adults are sedated with a drug injected with syringe. Adult scapegoats are caged and pelted with fruit.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Deceivers is the second book in the Greystone Secrets sci-fi saga by Margaret Peterson Haddix (The Always War ). Four children work together to rescue their mothers from a parallel world ruled by evil forces. There's little violence until the climax, when the kids are chased by soldiers amid distant gunfire. No strong language, drinking, or smoking. One character has a crush on another.

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What's the story?

As THE DECEIVERS begins, the Greystone children -- Chess, Emma, and Finn -- are still looking for their mother, who seems to be trapped in a menacing parallel world. With the help of their neighbor Natalie, whose own mother is also missing, the kids work together to find an underground passageway that will allow them to rescue the parents. Along the way, they encounter odd-acting doubles of themselves and other family members. Will the Greystones be able to prevent the meanness of the alternate world from spilling into our own?

Is it any good?

Middle volumes are notoriously difficult for readers and writers alike, and the second installment of this middle-grade thriller saga often feels annoyingly static. Much of the action of The Deceivers takes place in a maze-like basement -- with one drab setting after another. As charming as they often are, the Greystone kids sometimes act too predictably in this installment. Author Margaret Peterson Haddix is a master of the cliffhanger chapter ending, often generating nail-biting suspense, but her pacing feels a little off this time. Readers who enjoyed The Strangers will want the final volume to arrive quickly, if only to move the story into a higher gear.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the parallel world in The Deceivers. What would it be like to live in a place where you're constantly watched by the governement? Does that happen anywhere in our world? 

  • Why do you think stories of parallel worlds and characters who are the doubes of the main characters are so popular? 

  • Why do spies and other secret-keepers use codes and puzzles to communicate? When have codes and ciphers been used in war?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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