Toward a Secret Sky

Toward a Secret Sky

by Heather Maclean


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Toward a Secret Sky by New York Times bestselling author Heather Maclean is a new breed of YA novel: an intelligent adventure-quest crossed with a sweeping, forbidden love story. A mix of reality and possibility, this fast-paced thriller will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown as it leads the reader on a breathless flight through the highlands of Scotland, the secret city under London, and history itself.

"Five Stars! Mysterious, romantic, and totally fun! Toward a Secret Sky is the type of adventure I could lose myself in over and over again." - Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310754879
Publisher: Blink
Publication date: 04/24/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 826,238
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 15 - 18 Years

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Toward a Secret Sky 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
EmilyAnneK17 More than 1 year ago
Seventeen-year-old Maren Hamilton's world comes crashing down when her mother tragically dies. She is sent to Scotland to live with her deceased father's parents, who she never met. A mysterious box from her mother contains clues about the secret society she worked for, and their mysteries might prove deadly. With the help of a mysterious, handsome warrior and some awesome new friends, Maren must uncover the clues before the worst happens and another person dies. This book was all over the place! Hidden tunnels, secret societies, supernatural beings, riddles, mysterious artifacts, portals, prophetic dreams. It's like a combination of supernatural fantasy, spy mystery, star-crossed romance, high school drama, and cultural/historical fiction. Kind of crazy. But I liked it. Dare I give away one of the "big reveals" that characterizes the majority of the book? (hint, hint: That's my spoiler warning.) There were angels. They were at the heart of the secret society whose goal it was to protect humanity from the demons. It was pretty interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about the angel-human romance going on. I mean, it helps that the angel can become human (forever) in order to be with a human, but it still strikes me as a little wrong. Although I do like the couple together! Also, despite the angels, I'm not sure I would quantify this book as "Christian" per se. God was barely mentioned, even though He was the one the angels worked for. The characters almost never spoke of Him as being involved personally in the affairs, much less the characters having a personal relationship with Him. It seems more like the author liked the idea of angels as powerful, beautiful beings than as them working for a larger purpose and God. **End Spoiler** Anyway, I did like the story as a whole. The stakes were high, the adventurous story combinations were unique, and the settings were pretty cool. I liked the friendships Maren made and the relationship with her grandparents. And I liked Maren's spunky attitude. Still, there were things I didn't like about the story. The "love at first sight with the perfect, hot, unavailable guy." A little stereotypical, don't you think? I also didn't like that there was so much slightly inappropriate stuff, like the almost-incident with the date-rape drug, the inappropriate teen talk, the parties with alcohol, and the Incubus (the term definition will tell you all you need to know). There was a lot of insinuation and some sensuous kisses, but no on or off-screen sex happened. Just, for a supposedly young-teen, maybe-even-Christian novel, did there have to be so much inappropriate stuff? I did enjoy this YA fantasy novel and am highly anticipating the second book. But maybe make sure you know what's in it before you read it/purchase it for your teens? I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own, and I did not receive compensation for sharing them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book captures your heart and has just a great story!!
Gigous More than 1 year ago
Toward a Secret Sky is an exciting supernatural story with a mix of romance, mystery, and history. The story is set in the present day and told in first person by Maren, a 17 year old girl who has just lost her mother in a freak accident. She has to go live in Scotland with her grandparents. She slowly adjusts to Scotland, goes to school, and makes a friends. She meets a hot guy, Gavin, that she feels an instant connection to. When a box of her mother's things arrive, the contents have Maren questioning what she knew about her mother. She finds out that her mother was part of an organization that works with angels to fight demons. Gavin reveals a secret that convinces Maren that angels and demons are real. A demon attack on her friends has her racing to London with Gavin to save them. The story has a good pace, great characters, and a well-described setting. The story keeps you entertained to the end. Maren is a realistic character in accepting her mother’s death and realizing her mother’s secrets, and dealing with her own psychic gifts. Maren is a brave, smart, and a loyal and caring friend. Gavin is kind, strong, and a little old fashioned. Maren's friends, her grandparents, and the other secondary characters are very well written with distinct, vivid personalities. The author does a great job describing the setting of Scotland making you feel like you are there. The romance between Maren and Gavin happens fast, but is sweet and their deep connection feels right. No love triangle, a couple jerky guys flirt with her, but Maren only likes Gavin. No racy or violent scenes. I really liked this book and will continue with the series. Fans of the Mortal Instruments series, the Fallen series, the Conspiracy of Us series and other books about angels and demons or secret organizations would enjoy this book. I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
pooled_ink More than 1 year ago
pooled ink Reviews: 3.5 Stars TOWARD A SECRET SKY steps out of the soft light and into the pits of Hell. Roaring with demons and guarded by angels, two star-crossed lovers dance between pawns across the chess game of life. Maclean’s YA novel kicks off what seems to be a very interesting and action-packed series. Featuring the tireless battle between angels and demons upon the human chessboard, the story races forwards leaving little time for breath. Catastrophe, betrayal, mystery, intrigue, romance, and destiny fill the pages in no shortage but rather warp together to create a plot that spins tighter in intensity and farther from normalcy until it traps you submerged in its world. This book is quite focused on the forbidden romance but besides that much of the story is filled with thrilling chases, cryptic mazes, cunning codes, and dramatic showdowns. Think 'Romeo & Juliet' mixed with 'National Treasure' (2004 movie) and 'Angels and Demons' (by Dan Brown). Read my FULL review on my Wordpress blog: Pooled Ink
ShesGoingBookCrazy More than 1 year ago
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. We follow the story of Maren, a seventeen-year-old girl, whom recently lost her mother to a mysterious death. Having no immediate family left, she moves to Scotland, and lives with her estranged grandparents. From the beginning, we know that something otherworldly is at work. Strange dreams of premonitions assault Maren, and to her horror, come true. Just when she thinks things can't get stranger, she happens upon a gorgeous man in the woods. The enduring stranger pulls Maren out of the foreboding shadow of her mother's death, and reinvigorates her curiosity. However, the undeniable and budding chemistry between them is forbidden. As events ensue, death and chaos, wrought by the hands of demons, descends upon the small Scottish town. With the protective Gavin watching over her, Maven discovers mysteries about her parents' pasts, and unravels secrets of her own, in the battle between good and evil. I shouldn't say I was quite surprised with liking this book, because it interested me from the get-go. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with how well it was written, and how enjoyable it was. I do feel it could have been a 500+ pager, as there were areas that were skimmed over, rather than discussed in detail. For many people, the information given may satiate their appetite for detail. I, however, am a detail hog, and felt that those bothersome areas should have been explored further. I could thoroughly dissect these areas, but will refrain to keep the spoilers at a minimum. The overall pace of the read was steady. At times, I felt it to be rushed and choppy. There were several scenes which could have transitioned into the next more coherently. By no means am I saying the writing was bad, it is just a product of the fact that more was needed to make those transitions happen more smoothly. Maren: Along with her insta-love for Gavin, I had some issues with her character. She was relatively consistent when considering her emotions, and I felt for her at times. But her role changes drastically, and somewhat unrealistically at times. This is one of those areas where I believe the author could have gone into (much) more detail, in explaining more about her backstory, and how certain traits came to be. But, we must make due with what we are given. Almost immediately, we know there is something special about her because of the prophetic dreams she experiences. Then, the fact that she meets, and mutually falls in love with her guardian angel only increases her odds. However cliche the "unique" and "special" heroine is in today's young adult fantasy genre, it is a necessary attribute to when considering what is needed for Maren to overcome. Gavin: A drop-dead gorgeous angel warrior? I tend to think of angels (especially warriors) as, well...terrifying? Call me a traditionalist. Anyways, I don't have much to say about him. He's kind, thoughtful, and predicatively protective. Out of his love for Maven, he pushes boundaries and risks everything for her safety: everything a guardian angel should do, and more. Graham: I didn't foresee his role once he came on the scene--that's all I will say. I believe I enjoyed his character most, and the lesson that accompanied him. One recommendation, don't get too attached to characters. The ending is left open, setting up for a sequel. I'm looking forward to the next installment. 3.5 stars
Debby43 More than 1 year ago
Okay first off the picture of this cover does not do it any justice. I have a physical copy of this book and it is gorgeous! I know my rating is a little low on this book and I will get into why but I think this will be one of those series that gets better with each book. Toward a Secret Sky follows a main character named Maren, and her life definitely isn’t puppies and rainbows. She seems to be hit with blow after blow in this book, what I really enjoyed about her character was her ability to just keep getting back up and say, okay what’s next. Maren is sent to live with her grandparents in Scotland after her mother dies. She has never met these grandparents before, and after meeting them and encountering some of the townsfolk some new things begin to unfold. This book was chalk full of tropes, insta-love, daughter not knowing her real heritage, angels vs. demons. While it had all of these tropes it still reeled me in with its unique take on it all. (the insta-love still made me cringe) There are rules about the demons and angels fighting but the rules aren’t exactly clear yet. There is a human faction/abbey working with the angels. However this place has rules of its own, it seems like quite a strict place to be. Every tiny bit of information the author threw at me I gobbled it up. I just couldn’t wait to see what was around the next bend the next turn. Some things were of course were predictable,but that ending though… that hurt a little. I finished the book thinking wait that can’t be it? Where is the rest? I was really torn on how to rate this book because of all of the tropes, but yet this author brought a lot of fresh light to an otherwise tired plot. I really feel this series will just get better and better with each book. It has a lot of potential to go somewhere and be the next big thing. I’m excited to see what the next book is like, and where she takes the characters from here. I feel by the end of book one Maren had already really come into her own a little.
BlueEyeBooks More than 1 year ago
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.
BookwormforKids More than 1 year ago
By mixing beautiful landscapes with forbidden romance and then adding a horde of blood thirsty demons, this story promises an exhilarating ride. Maren moves to Scottland in the same way someone jumps off of a cliff into a black void. Her family is dead, she's never met or heard anything about the grandparents she's now suppose to live with, and her knowledge of Scotland isn't exactly broad. Settling in the new life is hard, but when she meets a good looking hunter in the forest, things take a big turn, and she learns that her life has been nothing but hidden secrets up until that point. The truth is something she'll have to experience to believe. Maren is an average, American seventeen-year-old girl, who, as is to be expected, not dealing well with her mother's sudden death. But even with this tragedy, Maren doesn't come across as a ray of sunshine kind of person. This made her very difficult to relate to in the first chapters--a few sharp edges and corners in her personality. As the story continues, the nicer sides of her appear and by the second half of the book, she's a true character to root for in every way. The scenes and descriptions around life in Scotland with all of its variety is simply a treat. The author does a fantastic job of introducing a country full of beauty and roughness. It was easy to picture the world and seemed as if even the odor of the forest came to life. The details about food, history and culture dabble between the plot points, adding lovely tidbits without ever calling attention to them. There's nothing slow paced about this story. Even the beginning chapters when Maren is settling in, never are too drawn out. When the demons appear and people start to die, the action is non-stop. All of this is mixed in with a lovely sense of mystery, one which also hangs greatly on Maren's interesting ability to solve puzzles. This is a nice trait not only for Maren's personality but adds a lovely bit of detective for those who enjoy deciphering things. Of course, romance is key in these pages, and the hero is one as wonderful and perfect as can be. His personality, attitude and history are interesting and inticing, making him impossible not to like. There are stumbling blocks in the relationship, which keep the tension high. Still, this romance tends to follow the love at first sight theme as is often seen in this genre. The ending is a cliff hanger, which demands to ride on into book two to find out what happens next. And it's sure to be another lovely adventure. I received a complimentary copy (ARC) and loved it enough to want to leave my thoughts. Can't wait for book 2!
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins Publication Date: April 4, 2017 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): 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. What I Liked: It's been quite some time since I read a YA angels/demons type of story. Years ago, there were plenty of them, and I read many of those books/series, and I got sick of them. I'm honestly not into the whole angels theme. But sometimes an author will surprise me. I'm going to be honest - this book surprised me. I didn't realize that it was an angels/demons type of paranormal story until after I received a galley, so my expectations fell a little, when discovering that. But I found that I enjoyed the book! I really hope there will be at least one more to follow. Maren Hamilton never thought she'd meet her father's parents, let alone live with them. She never knew her father, and her mother recently died, and Maren has no one else to turn to. Moving to Aviemore, Scotland is a huge adjustment... especially when Maren discovers that both her mother and her father worked for a secret organization tasked with fighting demons. Demons are real, and so are humans who fight them - and angels are real too, which Maren pleasantly discovers. But things aren't quite pleasant in Aviemore, with demons poisoning humans with something deadly. Maren and her handsome Gaelic tutor Gavin must find the antidote, following Maren's mother's clues, before someone dies. I'm going to start off by addressing the elephant in the synopsis - there is NO love triangle in this book. The synopsis does a pretty slick job of implying the presence of one, right? Well, it is overkill. Gavin is the one love interest. In fact, I think Maren physically interacts (like, talks to) Graham maybe twice? There is nothing remotely triangular about the romance. If anything, the romance is extremely insta-love-y and soul-mate-y, between Gavin and Maren. They fall in love with each other really, really quickly. In any case, there is no love triangle. It took me a bit to actually feel something towards Maren. She seemed very flat at first. But eventually she grew on me. She is stubborn and insistent and tough, but often a little misguided and irrational. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
onemused More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars "Toward a Secret Sky" is the story of Maren, an American teenager orphaned after her mother dies in a tragic but strange accident. She goes to live with her only surviving relatives, her father's parents, in Ireland. The first part of the book is her adjusting to her new life in Ireland and trying to ignore some odd dreams. Soon, she receives a package of her mother's belongings that call into question who her mother and father were and where they really worked. She must unravel the cryptograms and clues she finds to figure out who her parents were and learn more about the strange world around her. It's labeled as a thriller, but I would put it firmly in the category of YA romance/fantasy in the vein of Twilight. There is some major insta-love and angst over the forbidenness of the relationship due to who they are. After a few sightings and part of a day together, there is suddenly professions of love but it won't/can't work. I think I actually rolled my eyes at that bit. The relationship aspect was a little out there/I didn't really buy into it. The solving of the mystery was interesting, but pieces unraveled slowly- the romance was the main point of the story in my opinion. I didn't find any of it tense or scary, and the book was pretty easy to put down. That being said, it was still intriguing and I was able to finish it. The writing is well done but the plot could use some speeding up for the mysteries and slowing down for the heavy feelings/love. I don't want to say too much about the plot and mysteries so as to avoid spoilers. For fans of the Twilight series, this will be a real winner! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.