#SPFBO Review : Book of Secrets (Merged Series #1) by Claudia Blood

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Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood is the third book from my Second Batch of books that I’m aiming to read and review this month (my fourth and final book from this batch will be posted on Saturday followed by an update post on the following Monday.  I have read the fourth book now so I have eight books tucked under my belt and 7 more remaining.  You can find feedback from my first batch of books here and further information on SPFBO here. (Links to all reviews so far are posted below).

BoS

Joshua Lighthouse is the main character of Book of Secrets and also the reluctant hero.  Almost 300 years ago the world as we know it experienced an event that has become known as the Merge.  During a meteor shower the earth and the world of myth collided.  Since that time humans and those known as Others (a term that covers many species of fictional supernatural characters) have existed on the same plane – although not amicably so.

As a result of tension the Human Protection Agency was established, as the name suggests, to protect humans.  Over the course of the years Joshua worked his way to the top of the Agency, always closely guarding a secret that could change his fortune – at the same time becoming (ironically) responsible for a powerful book known as the Book of Secrets.  With the 300th anniversary of the Merge fast approaching it seems that this knew world is under threat from those who want to see their fortunes reversed.  Joshua finds himself discredited and the Book of Secrets stolen out from under him.  He’s in a race against time before the world he now knows is unmerged and his unlikely ally is a Pack member called Serene – herself one of the ‘most wanted’ from the Human Protection Agency.

I would describe Book of Secrets as urban fantasy.  I quite liked the idea of the merge although I did find the execution a little clunky as the book began and also maybe a little rushed as we immediately jump forward almost 300 years to reconnect with Joshua – who has matured and is now an adult, but clearly an adult with an unusually long lifespan – this is accounted for but I won’t share the explanation here.

We largely follow Joshua as he is dragged unknowingly into  a string of events that will bring everything he knows crashing down – at the same time he meets Serena who has experienced the loss of her pack and is determined to find out who is responsible and why. This element of the story develops into a romance although this doesn’t take over the main story.

Book of Secrets is, I felt, quite plot focused.  The pacing is fast, you’re thrown into Joshua’s new world and expected to hit the ground running.  Having read a good deal of UF in the past I didn’t particularly find this a problem, I didn’t mind the fast pace and thought the author came up with some original ideas which is quite an achievement given that this is a popular genre of fantasy.

However, I did have a few issues.  I felt like the characters were a little flat and this made it difficult for me to connect with them or really invest in any potential threats and I struggled in some ways to visualise the world – in my head I was picturing this as a modern world but then in others I was wondering how the Others fit in – what did their part of the world look like, and what developments had occurred in the time that had expired (300 years is a long time after all).  I guess in some respects it felt as though plot dominated the other elements but at the same time I recognise that this is a first in series and I always feel with UF that the first book is usually trying to hook readers and more substance and backstories will follow in later editions.

Book of Secrets didn’t completely win me over in the way I’d hoped, mainly due to the intense pace of the story which prevented other areas from being fully explored or attachments to form but, I think, if you like urban fantasy with a hint of romance and a story that bursts out of the starting blocks then maybe this could be the one for you.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

Books already reviewed for SPFBO :

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks