Toward A Secret Sky, Heather MacLean

Pub Date April 4, 2017
Hardcopy $17.99, e-book $9.99

While skimming through books this cover caught my attention with its stormy sky, highland hills and secret emblem floating above what I consider to be Celtic lettering. With this said, I read the description; ping #1 for me was it looked to take place in Scotland, so I assumed it had the ‘Scots humor’ I adore, and hoped MacLean would be endearing readers to the rugged Scotland I’ve come to know. Ping #2- Secret International Organization= mystery and intrigue, right? Ping #3- twisted labyrinths and famous cathedrals. So far, before I even cracked a page, I wanted to read this book!

Cracking open said book, I can honestly say it’s a page-turner. MacLean’s writing hits each story beat perfectly, each chapter starts with a hook and ends with a hook, which in turn equals ‘page-turner’ a.k.a loss of sleep if you’re reading at night.

MacLean hit on all my pings marvelously; it does take place mainly in Scotland with the secondary cast of characters weaving in the Scot’s humor, vocabulary, and daily living nuances of uprooting to a new country. Maren’s grandparents and new friends she makes help the readers understand what it would be like to suddenly find oneself in another country.

Maren, the 17 yr old who starts her story with the loss of her mom and immediate relocation to Aviemore, Scotland to be under the care of her grandparents, states the major differences between living in the US and Scotland succinctly with the large and small differences: language barriers, food choices, music availability, internet woes, phone challenges, etc. I love this, but then I’m an adult and have experienced US vs. the World differences in various countries.

Gavin, the hero of our story, is truly our hero as he does a lot of saving of Maren when needed, which is often. Gavin’s character is a type of angel, but a very young one. He’s also the hot Scot and we’re first introduced to him while he’s hunting in a kilt–great way to unexpectedly meet a hero, right? I found Gavin’s role to be a bit of an enigma though. The more I read, the more I found Gavin’s character to be confusing; in one scene he’s more like a standard young man, then the next he’s almost all knowing. I can understand that when it comes to romantic relationships this would be a new thing to him, being an angel in which MacLean explains Gavin has never been ‘in love’; it seemed like Gavin was a little too much like the waves on the beach with his knowledge and lack of knowledge flowing in and out instead of a steady movement forward as the book proceeded. Maybe this is the authors way of explaining how confusing love can be? As for love, my favorite line regarding the attraction factor is from Maren: Forget I ever met him. Short of getting a lobotomy, I had exactly zero chance of succeeding at that.

As for the story line itself, I would explain it as Buffy melds with James Bond. We’ve got the supernatural, superpower element of good vs. evil and the international men [and women] of mystery who are licensed to kill. There’s plenty of fast paced action mixed in with the underlying mystery of nightmares of foresight, disembodied screeching and in true Bond fashion, a cast of characters whom MacLean has no problem exterminating and replacing with new blood.

Overall, I give this a two thumbs up for it’s great pacing, plotting, and story beats which carry the reader swiftly through the book. I believe the young adult readers will enjoy this, but fair warning, this is definitely geared for the female readers who love action and not so much sappy, wimpy high school love stories.


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