15 September 2017

Review #639: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.”

----Tennessee Williams

Heather Maclean, the New York Times bestselling author, has penned a compelling YA fantasy book called, Toward a Secret Sky that centers around a teenage girl, who just lost her mother in an accident, turning her into an orphan girl, as a result she travels to the Scottish Highlands to her paternal grandparents' house, where she meets a strange yet very attractive young man, who unravels the mystery behind her deceased parents' true and real profession of helping the good and fighting darkness in the world, all the while opening a new dimension of universe for the young girl to make her believe.


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.

Little did Maren, a high school teenager, knew that her happy safe bubble of life would soon burst, with her mother's tragic death that left her as an orphan, and that she had to go and live with her deceased father's parents in a small town in Scotland. Upon her arrival, Maren finds that the town is sleepy, cold and very odd, as she comes across a brooding, handsome, mysterious guy named, Gavin, with whom she immediately falls for. And along with Gavin, Maren finds out the real nature of her dead parents's jobs who were tasked to protects the world by fighting off with demons, and that Maren has to finish the last task that her mother was assigned to do, in order to protect the lives of the humans and animals dying off mysteriously. And only Maren can unlock and find the antidote with Gavin, who happens to be an angel. Now everything lies on Maren's shoulders to fight off demons and to cure the world of a deadly sickness, can she fulfill it or will her emotions stop her from taking the risky path, where death is lurking at every corner?

Although the synopsis sounds very much "been-there-read-that" a lot with a teenage brave female protagonist, and a hot brooding male counterpart, yet somehow, this story is pretty intriguing enough that kept me turning the pages of the book frantically, because it involves an edgy adventure through grand cities and cathedrals and tunnels, its like reading a Dan Brown book. Also the fantasy elements are developed so perfectly with enough explanation and reason to justify their existence. For a quick weekend read that involves a bit of fantasy, love and magic, this book perfectly fits the bill, as it will keep the readers engaged till the very end. And not to mention, that stunning book cover will allure and beg the readers to open the book and start reading it.

The make-believe fantasy world that the author established in her book is exquisitely beautiful, believable to the very core and strikingly described with enough details that will let the readers visualize such a universe right before their own eyes where the angels exist. The constantly changing backdrop from Scottish town to the city of London to its old cathedrals are all vividly depicted into the story line and will transport the readers right into those places.

The writing style of the author is articulate and the plot is laced with a mysterious feel to keep the readers allured into the heat of the story till the very last page. Although the story line lacks deep, evocative emotions, yet the teenage and the angels and demons drama will keep the readers glued to the book. Beside the mystery that is not that difficult to predict, the vivid and adrenaline-rushing adventure packed with tension will keep the readers enthralled. The prose and dialogues are okay, and with a fast pace, this book will turn out to be a subtle compelling read for many young readers.

When it comes to teenage fantasy fiction, a love triangle and romantic drama is a must, insta-love turns me off a lot, so indeed, in this book too, Maren and Gavin's faster-than-instant-noodles-kind-love-story is not at all good. Moreover, the characters lack a bit of development, otherwise, the heroine, Maren is a thoughtful, mature and very courageous young lady, who can take her own decisions and can fight her own battles despite of the presence of a hot, strong and muscular dude named, Gavin, whose nature remained a mystery to me till the turn of the very last page. There are few supporting characters who are interestingly etched out and will definitely make their presence felt to the readers.

In a nutshell, this is an engrossing and fun young adult fantasy book involving angels, demons and humans.

Verdict: Subtly captivating!

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Heather Maclean for giving me an opportunity to read and review her book.

Author Info:
Heather Maclean is a Princeton graduate and The New York Times bestselling author and editor of 15 books.
Named one of the '16 Best Entrepreneurs in America' by Sir Richard Branson, she accompanied the adventurous business legend on a 50,000-mile trip around the world, alternately helping improve the lives of others (designing sustainable development initiatives in South Africa) and fearing for her own (rappelling out of a Black Hawk helicopter in a Moroccan sandstorm).
Heather began her career at Disney, where she had the distinction of being the first person ever to answer Mickey Mouse's e-mail.
When not castle hunting in her husband's native Scotland, she and her clan of 3 kids happily reside in Michigan.
Visit her here

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