Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Sekret by Lindsay Smith.

Sekret #1.
Published: April 1, 2014.
Published by: Roaring Brook Press.
Source: Requested an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Macmillan!

Goodreads Synopsis:
From debut author Lindsay Smith comes an espionage thriller with a dash of both history and dystopia.

Yulia’s father always taught her that an empty mind is a safe mind. She has to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia, especially because she seems to be able to read the minds of the people she touches. When she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power where she can trust no one. 

She certainly can’t trust Rostov, the cruel KGB operative running the psychic program. Or handsome Sergei who encourages her to cooperate with the KGB. Or brooding Valentin who tells her to rebel against them. And not the CIA, who have a psychic so powerful he can erase a person’s mind with his own thoughts. Yulia quickly learns she must rely on her own wits and power to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

My Review:

A Cold War spy thriller with psychics. Seriously. That's what Sekret is, and it's fantastic for it. It seems like such a natural connection to have spies with psychic abilities and it works so well. Bringing it into the Cold War just adds the perfect setting for that combination. Sekret has an engaging beginning and despite a slower plot pace for much of the rest of the book, it still has its exciting and tension-filled moments and works well to develop all the different elements that Smith has woven in.

Yulia is a very interesting character and is a girl who's determined beyond belief. She is taken into the KGB and forced to work for them in the psychic program in order to protect her family. Her love for them is strong and ever-present as Yulia struggles with staying and keeping them safe or trying to escape for her own good. Her will to accomplish both -- escape and save her family -- is her driving force and is so admirable. 

Yulia's "love triangle", if you can even go so far as to call it that, was very well done because it's not a typical love triangle with the girl torn between the two guys. While there is an attraction to both Sergei and Valentin on Yulia's part, one fades away and it's clear that strong feelings really only develop for one of the guys. I also appreciated the way the two of them each pulled her in different directions and it came down not only to who Yulia is more drawn to but also to who can support, not hinder, what she ultimately wants for herself.

I also really enjoyed the characterization of the other psychics in the program. The twins, Misha and Masha, as well as Ivan and Larissa round out the group of young psychics very well and bring both friendship and conflict. I really enjoyed that there was a variety of responses from the teens to having to work for the KGB. The fact that these were explored, even briefly for some, helped to really bring the historical context alive and place these characters within it while also making them more human. 

Smith does a great job of creating tension in the relations between the characters and in the missions they're sent on. The setting absolutely lends itself to that -- setting it in the USSR during the Cold War means the story is drenched in a time that was the height of fear and secrecy. Those really come through in the novel, as does the state of relations with the United States, which is a very important element of the plot. Smith has done a great job of making the historical context work as a perfect backdrop and motivator for her plot. 

Overall, Sekret is an original and mostly exciting historical thriller. It has a few moments that didn't grab my attention as much as I would have liked, but there is so much working in its favour that this is really a minor note in the grand scheme of the novel. I loved the setting and how it played in, and the psychic abilities were a fantastic element. A great read! 


  1. I've been wanting to read this one, but I'd read some really unflattering reviews. That being said I trust your opinion on Historical Fiction, so I'll have to put this one back on the list!

    1. Really? I haven't seen those! Bummer. Well I do think it's worth a read. It's such a different time period to cover in historical fiction and I love the way the psychic stuff played into the Cold War espionage. Do give it a shot! :)

  2. I love books about Russia and this is such a unique concept. Definitely looking forward to reading!

    1. Yes, I definitely want to read more Russia books. This one was a great addition, I think. totally unique and all the elements blend really well.

  3. I really enjoyed this one, as well! It was such a unique idea and I loved the Cold War setting.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. I'm glad to hear it! I loved the Cold War setting as well. Such a different time period to cover, especially from the Russian side.


I'd love to hear what you think!