Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (2 points)
Secrets in the Mist has a creative storyline that many readers will love, but because the characters lack depth, the novel’s main points fall a bit flat.
There are three major strengths of the plot and storyline. (spoilers ahead) First, Busse creates a believable reason for the Turned to exist and places limits on their abilities – making this aspect of the plot more realistic. Second, the plot contains enough small twists to keep the story’s progression from becoming overly predictable. Finally, the storyline contains some original themes that are not usually portrayed in Christian fiction.
In comparison, there is one overarching error. The plot focuses heavily on Cass and her perspective, and in doing so, fails to connect other characters to the plot in a memorable way. For instance, it would have been nice for the author to include a parallel storyline about Theo’s grandfather when he was Theo’s age – a present vs. past contrast, so to speak. This would have created an opportunity for her to establish what the world was like before the Mist was widespread, and to deepen Theo’s point of view by crafting a backstory for his family that explained how past decisions led to their present condition. Alternatively, a past-to-present parallel storyline from Luron’s perspective would have been interesting as well – especially if the author did not reveal that character’s identity as an opportunistic villian until later in the series. To sum up, the plot and storyline are lacking this author’s usual depth and attention to detail. Therefore, Secrets in the Mist receives an average score in this section because the plot and storyline are full of good, but unfinished ideas.
Character Development (2 points)
Much like the plot and storyline, this novel’s characters are full of potential. However, improvements can be made in several areas.
There are two main strengths in this part of the novel. One, Cass (the protagonist) has a fully developed personality, tendencies, and consistent behaviors. And two, this character was given both motive and a meaningful backstory that helps establish the setting in an organic way.
In spite of these strengths, this novel needed some work in character development. Theo is an incomplete character who lacks flaws, motive, and a fully developed personality. With what we know about Theo’s background, it would have been very easy to establish some flaws. (spoilers ahead) For instance, Theo grew up in a privileged society and never consistently interacted with people from the lower classes. At the very least, Theo would have developed an unconscious attitude of entitlement, even if he was only copying his family’s behavior patterns. Moreover, what is his motive for wanting to eradicate the Mist? Because no one is born wanting to save the world, something had to have happened that would inspire his drive to fix things. (spoiler) If this motivation is his father’s death, we needed to hear more from the character about how this affected him in the past and present.
The only other error in this section is the underdeveloped minor characters. As readers, we are told what the minor characters do via expository dialogue, but we never really get to know them. Including one or two meaningful scenes each with the minor characters would have helped to cement them as key parts of the storyline. On the whole, this section is lacking some of the elements of a good story, and for that reason, it too receives an average score.
Creativity & Originality (1 point)
In closing, Secrets in the Mist is an enjoyable, easy-to-read story that features a well-built fictional world and relevant themes. For this reason, it earns a point in creativity. However, because it lacks depth and has a few plot holes, it is not re-readable. Additionally, this book would need some rewriting before it would be ready for a movie/series adaptation. For that reason, it does not earn an x-factor point. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, but would have liked to see the author go a step further in several areas and take a few risks.
Wish List Rating: 5 out of 10 points