Title // Toward a Secret Sky
Author // Heather Maclean
Publication Date // April 4 2017
Publisher // Blink
Genre // Young Adult, Paranormal
Toward a Secret Sky by New York Times bestselling author Heather Maclean is a new breed of YA novel: an intelligent adventure-quest crossed with a sweeping, forbidden love story. A mix of reality and possibility, this fast-paced thriller will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown as it leads the reader on a breathless flight through the highlands of Scotland, the secret city under London, and history itself.
Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.
With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.
Toward a Secret Sky is a Dan Brown-esque young adult paranormal story set in Scotland, following the forbidden love between a human and an immortal, and the race to save humans from an otherworldly menace.
The Scottish setting was really lovely to read about. I’ve never been to Scotland before, but the way Heather Maclean described the places that Maren lives and visits made it come to life on the page, and really set a unique tone for the book. The countryside, estates, cathedrals and crypts made for some great reading.
I really enjoyed Maren’s character – for the first part of the story she was a very prickly young woman, hurt by the deaths of her parents and the way that her life has suddenly been uprooted and everything she knows is different. Once she realises that her family has a connection to a secret organisation that she never knew about, it gives her focus and gives her something to focus on.
I didn’t realise just how much of a paranormal book this would be before reading it and I loved that entire aspect. Between Gavin and Graham’s worlds, Maclean has taken two very familiar paranormal creatures and given them a unique twist that perfectly suits the story she’s trying to tell.
It was very fast-paced; a lot happens in very quick succession and that really helped hold my interest and keep me reading well after I thought I should have put the book down.
There is a bit of insta-love and that would occasionally pull me out of the reading zone to ask ‘Really?!’ It’s not that the relationships between Maren and Gavin and Maren and Graham are interesting – they both are – but I think it would have still been okay to dive more into the mystery before rolling out the romance, rather than the other way around.
I would have liked more character development on the side characters that play important roles within the story – such as Maren’s mother and her grandparents. We get glimpses, and are expected to understand the impact these characters have on her life, but we know so little about them. Hopefully these characters might be fleshed out further in subsequent books.
Overall, I gave Toward a Secret Sky 4 out of 5 stars.
I received a copy of Toward a Secret Sky from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.