Standalone to date
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
“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.”
Thank you to Blink Publishers for gifting me with a copy of Toward a Secret Sky in exchange for an honest review!
This was a really cool book! It took a different twist on angels and demons while keeping the core constant and the plot was really nicely done. The romance was where it got shaky for me.
1. The characters. The characters in general were quite well developed. I loved getting to know Maren, Hunter, Jo, and Gavin. I do think their relationships could have been a bit more complex, though. While by themselves, they were great, it was when they interacted that it felt slightly shallow. There was definitely potential there. As for qualities, this goes along with the romance point, but I wanted to mention it here as well. I just couldn’t get behind Maren’s attitude. She’s the main character and is finding out about all of this angel demon stuff which is obviously a shock and stressful, but the way she handles it had me face-palming on a regular basis. She didn’t give anyone the full details of what was going on and seemed to just meander around until something scary showed up and then jumped to Gavin’s side. She just didn’t stand up for herself or rely on her own inner strength. In contrast, I loved Hunter and Jo’s characters. They felt so real and while they had their strengths, they also had cracks in their armor which I found endearing.
2. The plot. This is where this book truly shines. The plot is beautifully shaped and progresses with fluidity. Everything is so well connected and explained, I felt like I was actually there, next to the characters. I really loved how Maren finds out about the whole new world and how the information is delivered to the reader. There was never an overwhelming moment. I also enjoyed, in general, the shape of the plot line. There’s a clear goal in mind but there are also complications along the way which kept the book from feeling too simple or singular.
3. The romance. Like I said above, this is the one thing I just can’t get behind. Be warned: there is insta-love. While it’s slightly acceptable because of the whole angel, supernatural powers thing, it was still too fast for my tastes. Gavin and Maren know each other for like 4 days before they tell each other that they love each other and during the journey, Maren relies upon Gavin’s strength to stay afloat and has no backbone of her own. I just didn’t like how the romance was structured as a damsel-in-distress situation. Once their relationship gets going, it is quite sweet, if you can overlook the lapses into helplessness for Maren.
4. The idea/setting. This is also one of the things I adored. The author keeps with the whole angel-demon idea but twists it enough into something entirely new to me which was really cool. There are new elements added and some things from the original stories are changed so there are new things to learn as you read. The story felt entirely original which was a big motivation for me to keep reading. I was absolutely entranced as I absorbed this new idea. I also want to mention the setting in this point. I loved that it was set in England and Scotland. I’ve never been to Scotland and with the author’s writing, I could feel how it would feel to actually be there and while I have been to England, the author did a wonderful job of constructing the city.
The Final Verdict:
The romance and inner qualities of the main character were pretty large set-backs for me. However, the plot and the idea take the cake 100%. They steal the show and kept me turning pages.
Meet the Author: