Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean – YA Contemporary Fantasy Set in Scotland

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Author: Heather Maclean
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fiction; Fantasy, Contemporary
Source: Publisher provided ARC – thank you!
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Rating: ★★★ 1/2 out of 5

Maren Hamilton has had not one but two tough breaks in her short 17 years. First, the day she was born when her father died. And now, some 17 years later, her mother dies leaving her without her best friend. In the aftermath, Maren is sent to Scotland to live with the grandparent’s she’s never known – the grandparents who never approved of her mother.

As she tries to adapt to life with strangers let along the adjustment gap of a new country, Maren discovers secrets about her parents. Not only is she troubled with this, she also meets an otherworldly creature named Gavin, a handsome guy, who also has connections to this secret world.

Though they’ve enjoyed immense popularity, I’ve not read any of the Shadowhunter novels by Cassandra Clare. I have seen the TV show and film based on the novels and read the YA fantasy Unblemished. The latter is, in my opinion, an example of what the Shadowhunter stories might have been. ‘Sky’ has similar vibes.

Demons and angels are traditionally not my kind of story. I’m not a fan of that particular brand of good vs. evil battle.  That said, the adventure of ‘Sky’ does evolve into a unique, page-turning story. Readers’ race alongside Maren to learn about the secrets her family kept, and discover the implications and danger they pose to her future. The prose engages the reader from the start of this novel. It’s fast-paced and the heroine is immediately someone we sympathize with. Her plight is revealed in the first chapter which leads us to have a sense of her, and as the story progresses, to feel an emotional connection.

Though not a make or break fumble (in my opinion), this book does have a case of “insta-love.” Or perhaps that’s not the term so much as immediate fascination? Either way the results leaves Maren thinking about someone waiting for her as a groom, only to rebound by mentally chastising herself because she doesn’t know him. The story is docked a bit for me because the romance does spiral into a kind of unhealthy example of teen love. It goes from attraction to not being able to live without someone, and it doesn’t flow naturally.

Aside from the few flaws I felt hindered the story, this is a fun, easy-to-enjoy story. The end has a cliffhanger which leads me to believe a sequel is in the plans. Either way, it’s a story that begs for further exploration and resolution. Look no further for you sci-fi fix on that summer reading list. Pick up Toward a Secret Sky; it's a story sure to make you flip pages long into the night.

Synopsis: 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. - Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary ARC.


  1. What a stunning cover! Bummer that is has some insta-love going on.

    1. Right?? That always knocks down the rating. *sigh*

      I agree. This cover IS stunning, and I love the armchair adventure its pages hold.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Erica! :)

  2. This one sounds rather interesting, I hadn't heard of it before now. The insta-love aspect gets quite tedious, but there do seem to be some redeeming aspects. I'll have to look into this one more, I really enjoyed your review!

    1. Thanks, Jordan! I enjoyed a lot about this, and honestly do like it better than Shadowhunters (TV show). I just couldn't get past some of the romance issues.

      Hope you enjoy this one if you read it. :)

  3. I always like to hear about new books set in Scotland. One of the dreamiest places on earth!!


    1. I've never been, Tarissa, but if the photos or TV shows are any indication, I can only imagine it's beautiful. Perhaps someday I'll visit! :)

      Thank you for visiting.


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