Book Review: The Hidden King

hidden king

  • Title: The Hidden King
  • Author: E.G. Radcliff
  • Series: The Coming of Aed, #1
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publishing Date: June 1st, 2019
  • Publishing Co.: E.G. Radcliff
  • Length: 308 pages
  • Format: Kindle Unlimited, Paperback
  • Acquired: Given free paperback copy in exchange for an honest review
  • Amazon Link: The Hidden King

Hidden truths. Hidden power. Hidden destiny.

On the shores of a rusty sea, in the streets of a starving city, a young man named Áed scraps to build a life for himself and the makeshift family he loves. Scarred by a trauma he cannot remember, and haunted by the brutal damage it left behind, he has no idea of the courage his future will demand.

When a heart-wrenching tragedy shatters his family, a desperate Áed risks a treacherous journey to seek a kingdom of legend—and a new beginning. But an ancient legacy smoldering within him is about to turn deadly, and neither he—nor the legends—will ever be the same.

Final Judgment: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Aed lives in the Maze, a world full of gangs, dirt, and starvation. With hands crippled beyond recognition, work is near impossible to come by, and he has been denied even entry into a gang. The only thing keeping him going is his partner Ninian and the little boy they look after, Ronan. But when tragedy strikes, Aed has to figure out a new way to live. Journeying to a city greater than any he could have dreamed of, he discovers secrets about himself that will shape his destiny. Will these secrets help or harm his new life?

With an absolutely beautiful prose style, EG Radcliff juxtaposes a horrifically desolate world with the pristine Suibhen, emphasizing their contrasts and bringing each to life for the reader. Her use of frequent metaphors perfectly grounds this unusual world into reality for the readers, allowing us to connect with it and its characters on both an emotional and physical level. I can actually see where the characters are living, feel how their surroundings constrain them. I have to be honest, her writing style is what drew me into the book and kept me reading.

The characters each have interesting nuances, but admittedly, they each seem a bit underdeveloped–excepting the MC, Aed. There is so much potential for each of them to be unique, both in dialogue and action. And yet, most of the secondary characters spoke similarly, acting only in predictable ways to move the plot along. None really conformed to a specific personality, except superficially. However, as this was only our introduction to the characters, I have hope that the sequel will further flesh out their motivations and personalities!

I have seen several reviews that laud this book for its fast-paced, action-packed plot. However, I thought it was completely the opposite. There is no real climax, no building of tension or even a guiding force to keep the plot moving along. Rather, the book feels more like a jumble of one small, inconsequential event after another, each without tangible excitement or suspense. I kept waiting for the stakes to rise, for something big to happen, but it never did. The plot was predictable and inauthentic, awkwardly moving from each new event.

Overall, I loved the premise of this novel. The “rags-to-riches” trope always gets me, and the world and its hint of magic draws me in. The writing style also keeps me hooked, wanting to read more if only to experience the words themselves. Hopefully, the plot picks up in the next book, as now all of the background on the characters has been dealt out. I will most likely be picking up the next book in the series!

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