Book Review: Secret Ones

Secret Ones (Dream of Asarlai)Nicole Murphy- Secret Ones, Dream of Asarlai #1 (2010)

Publisher: Harper Voyager, imprint of Harper Collins

Synopsis: The gadda look human, act human, interact with humans, but come from a different ancestor and so have access to the energy of the world around them. With this energy, they can perform magic. For centuries, the gadda have worked to maintain balance in using the power and to keep their identity secret from the rapidly expanding human race. All this is now at risk — the most terrible of gadda teachings, the Forbidden Texts, have been stolen and the race is on to find them.

Maggie Shaunessy has a well-deserved reputation as a troublemaker within the gadda, but she has to learn to curb those antics when she falls in love. Then her career path is totally overturned when the Grenanome is killed and she must take over. Her lover Lucas Manly didn’t know he was gadda, until he met Maggie. When he finds out who his father really is, it’s uncertain if he’ll be allowed to stay. Love is difficult enough — at this time, it’s deadly (from Goodreads).

Review: I wasn’t quite sure how to rate the Secret Ones. Its premise
was definitely promising and I was very enthusiastic to read an Aussie SciFi
fantasy novel, however I was left feeling a little underwhelmed.

Stretching out of the usual paranormal genre, Murphy
introduces us to Maggie Shaunessy who is gadda, a secret race on earth with
hidden powers. They mainly conjugate in the town of Sclossin in Ireland. Maggie
has a big mouth and is always getting herself into trouble. When she upsets the
gadda elders one too many times she is sentenced back to her hometown Winton in Australia for two years with no contact from friends. One last night out on the
town, Maggie winds up in bed with fellow gadda Sean Flaherty who happens to
fall madly in love with her whilst she was left relatively underwhelmed by their encounter. She returns to Australia to work in the University where her grandfather runs a science department and she meets hunky scientist Lucas Valeroso, who has no idea that he is a gadda. Little does she know, Sean is on his way to Australia to pledge his love to Maggie at becomes an obsessional character who does not seem to take no for an answer.

When a creature is sent to attack Maggie’s grandfather,
Lucas soon realises that there aren’t just humans on the planet earth and
begins to wonder about all his own oddities that have never before made sense.
Maggie is recruited to train Lucas to climb the ranks of the gadda whilst they
try to figure out who wants to harm her family members.

Like I said the premise of the story is really quite good
and a little out of the usual for a fantasy SciFi genre which I found
appealing. However, there were many things about the story that I found
frustrating.  Firstly, I am always a sucker for a love story and Secret Ones is very much one of these. But I wasn’t really convinced about this couple, the author did a lot of ‘telling’ about their attraction and developing feelings but she didn’t really ‘show’ it. In saying that I was also quite aware of the actual writing style of the author which was distracting as I like to become so engrossed in a story that I don’t notice the writing. I was told there was a connection between the two but I didn’t really feel it.

I also thought it was a bit of a shock when Maggie was promoted in the ranks of the gadda considering all the trouble she has caused along the way. That didn’t really make sense to me.

The role of Holly, a woman from Lucas’s past was a bit odd. When she was first introduced I thought for sure she was going to cause some havoc and of course cause a scene between Lucas and Maggie. I know that is a bit predictable but we all love some tension and conflicts in a relationship. However Holly didn’t really make much of an impact and I think she could have caused more trouble for Lucas to keep up the suspense. Instead, most of the problems that come up in the plot were resolved relatively quickly.

The subtitle of the book is ‘dream of asarlai’ which seemed to be a very subtle undertone of the book and again not much purpose. Asarlai is introduced at the beginning of the book and then once or twice she is mentioned in the middle of the book and again at the end. I guess what is good about her character is the problems she has caused were left unresolved and so I expect this will become more of a focus in the second novel. In this first novel though I wondered whether we really needed to be introduced to Asarlai or whether she could have become more of a main character in the book.

In saying all that, I did enjoy the storyline and the different take on the fantasy genre. Given it is the first in a series and was a starting point for introducing all the background information, I would like to see what is in stall for the Maggie and Lucas in the next novel, Power Unbound.

3/5 rating

Secret Ones can be purchased from Fishpond (free shipping in Australia) and other book retailers.


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