I’ve never really talked about my “auto-buy books” before but today is the day… Whenever I find a book that is set in Scotland I auto-buy it. My love for Scotland runs deep *looks up at massive Scottish flag over bed* Needless to say, when I found “Toward a Secret Sky” by Heather Maclean I knew I had to buy it because… It took place in Scotland. haha
This book honestly surprised me quite a bit. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and found that I couldn’t put it down once I started. Toward a Secret Sky is the perfect blend of “Twilight” meets “The Mortal Instruments” meets “Doon.” If you’re a fan of any of those stories, then you have got to check out this book.
S Y N O P S I S:
Evil is real. We are at war. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.”
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.
I don’t want to put any spoilers in this review, because who likes that? :-p I do however want to talk about what I loved and didn’t love.
L O V E:
I think we established already that I love the fact the story is set in Scotland. However, it’s set in a very small, remote village in Scotland that adds to the charm and fairytale-like qualities of the story. The story also takes you on a slightly historical trip through London, which was fun too. If you love European history you’ll love those added bits.
The main character Gavin (well he’s one of them) is totally SWOON worthy. I imagine him to be a blend of Jamie Fraser and Jamie MacCrae. Most of the time he’s walking around in a kilt and often is shirtless and let’s not forget his beautiful Scottish accent. Gavin falls into the Edward Cullen type character. The good guy, who seems like he could be a bad guy, but is actually just holding on to a deep secret about his life that he can’t’ reveal. Then he falls in love with Maren and can’t be with her because he loves her too much to put her in danger.
The other main character, Maren, is interesting because she starts off the story recently losing her mum in an accident. She has to start life anew with a family she doesn’t know and in a place, she’s never been before. For a lot of people that would be ridiculously hard, but she handles it really well. I think the author did a great job showing the range of emotions Maren was feeling during that time and made them believable. Maren and Gavin’s relationship is where you will see the direct link to “Twilight.” Maren is trying very hard to save those she loves and feels responsible for their deaths and demise. However, when she’s with Gavin she finds strength and the belief that she can do anything.
This story takes an interesting spin on the idea of Angels and Demons. At first, I thought it might be a bit cheesy but the more I dived into it the more I felt the author did a great job making it believable. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil it, but this is where you’ll see the direct tie to “The Mortal Instruments” and a world hidden within our own.
Lastly, I tend to love books by Blink. I think Blink publishes incredible stories that truly make you think about life but also what lies beyond this world. And I have yet to read a book from this publisher that I didn’t like.
L O V E D B U T N O T S O M U C H:
The reason I gave this book 3.5 stars is because as much as I am forever a Twihard, I often times felt myself feeling as though I had read this story before. I wanted it to be a bit different and have its own flow. Too often it felt as though I was reading “Twilight” and that kind of distracted me.
When it comes to Maren and Gavin, their relationship happens so quickly that I couldn’t decide if it was believable or not. Their love is forbidden and despite all that Gavin will lose if he chooses to love Maren, he still quickly gives in, at least until later in the story. I think moments like these in stories are always so hard because sometimes love happens fast and unexpectedly and other times it takes a long time to mature. So this wasn’t awful, just sometimes hard to accept.
At times the story felt as though it was moving way too quickly. There is a lot of world building going on in this book and a lot of characters to meet. Sometimes it felt as though things could slow down and be expanded upon more. Maybe that’s just me wishing the book was longer or wishing the sequel was out now too haha. For the most part, the author does a great job establishing this world and making it believable. I just wish some of the relationships would have been built up a bit more to really feel the impact when things happen to particular characters. The character Graham kind of comes out of nowhere and when he does make his plans known in the book it felt almost unexpected. I would have loved to see more build up there to truly make sense of why he did what he did.
O V E R A L L:
I really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to get the sequel. This book leaves you on a cliff hanger (gah!) and I’m really hoping the sequel comes soon because I cannot wait. I would definitely recommend you picking up this book and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Until next time, Happy Reading Book Lovelies <3