Book Review: Secrets in the Mist

by Morgan L. Busse

Secrets in the Mist
**cover image from publisher’s website**

Secrets in the Mist is the first steampunk novel I’ve ever read. I was super excited when I first learned about Secrets in the Mist because I wanted to read steampunk, but couldn’t find any books I thought I’d like.

So while I’m talking about steampunk, I’ll jump into the worldbuilding of Secrets in the Mist. It was super fun. I loved the floating islands, zippers, and airships. I was a little confused about how Belhold, one city, covered an entire mountain. But that wasn’t a huge thing. The worldbuilding was great, though I would have maybe liked a little bit more of the it to be shown. However, that could have been because I love worldbuilding, and also wanted to explore more of the steampunk setting.

The Mist. Let’s talk about eery settings that suck you in. Seriously. The Mist and the cities abandoned in it were so cool. And the Turned were just the right amount of creepy. I actually had to set the book down at one point because of the Turned. It was late at night, and I just knew that the Turned were going to show up and ruin everything. So I had to stop reading because of the suspense and because I didn’t want to be dreaming about zombies!

I appreciated how Busse created a scientific reason for the Turned. However, I am a little confused about how a spore can inhabit a body and control it. It’s possible that it was explained in the story and I missed it though.

Now for the characters. Cass is a street kid, tough on the outside but sweet at her core. I also appreciated the way that Busse made Cass struggle with the emotional scars of what happens around the midpoint.

Theo is part of the upper ruling class. However, unlike most of the upper class, Theo wants to study the Mist and see if there is a way to get rid of it.

At first, Cass and Theo seem a little bit like stereotypical characters. The tough girl who lives on these streets. The rich boy who’s different from his peers and cares about people. But Busse gives Cass and Theo their own personalities and struggles. So while they fit the archetypes, they aren’t completely cliche.

Secrets in the Mist is told in dual POVs between Cass and Theo. I do wish that there had been more chapters from Theo’s POV towards the first half of the story. The jumps between Cass’s and Theo’s POVs felt a little awkward at first, simply because the story stayed in one POV for a long time before going to the other POV.

And then the plot.

I enjoyed Secrets in the Mist. I will very likely read it again and read the conclusion to the duology. However, I’m not sure if I could tell you what the plot question of Secrets in the Mist is. The first question that comes to mind is, “Will a cure for the Mist be found?” But that feels more like the plot question for the duology, especially since searching for a cure for the mist really comes into play around the midpoint of Secrets in the Mist, which is the end of Act One for the overarching plot.

That is one of the problems I feel like I find with duologies a lot. It’s harder to find the plot of the individual book because it gets a little lost in the overarching plot. Because the overarching plot is split across two novels, that means that—following a three-act structure—the first book is the beginning of the plot up to the midpoint. And sometimes that can be easy to tell. The ending of Secrets in the Mist feels the midpoint of the overall plot, but not in a bad way!

So to try and sum all of my plot ramblings up: while I couldn’t sum up the plot of Secrets in the Mist in a clear statement or question, I still enjoyed the book and will finish the series.

Overall, Secrets in the Mist was a great first steampunk read, and I’m excited to see how Busse concludes the duology.

Also, I’m just going to comment on the cover because I am still in awe over it! Seriously. It is so gorgeous.

Cautions: light romance; semi-graphic descriptions of zombies; non-graphic, moderate violence

***I received an e-ARC from Enclave Publishing. All opinions in this review are my own. Secrets in the Mist releases August 10, 2021.***

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