Title: The Hidden Twin
Author: Adi Rule
Format: eARC, kindly provided by
the publishers via NetGalley for
review. (Thank you!!)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
My rating: 3 / 5
For eighteen years a girl with no name, a Redwing, has been hidden away in a small attic room within a city of hissing pipes and curving temples perched on the side of the great volcano, Mol, while her sister, Jey-identical except for her eyes-has lived her life in public as an only child. Their father had hoped the hidden girl would one day grow up to be a normal human girl and not the wicked creature mythology has promised, so he secretly spared her life as an infant.
But when she switches places with her sister, striking up a flirtation with the son of the Empress while working in the royal gardens and gets attacks by two suspicious priests on her journey home, she is forced to call forth fire to protect herself, unleashing her previously dormant powers and letting her secret out. She soon catches the attention of a cult with a thousand year old grudge as well as a group of underground rebels, both seeking her for their own gain. But when her sister goes missing and the Redwing uncovers a great plot to awaken Mol and bring fiery destruction upon them all, she is forced to embrace her powers.
In Adi Rule's stunning new novel, The Hidden Twin, the girl with no name, must finally choose a name and a path for herself, drawing a line between myth and history to prove herself more than a monster if she is to save both her sister and her home.
-- As seen on Goodreads
*I received an eARC from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my opinion in any way.*
You know those books where you instantly fall in love with the synopsis, but when you finishing reading the book you feel… underwhelmed? Well, that’s how I feel about The Hidden Twin. I absolutely adore everything about the concept of this world – the Redwing mythology, Caldaras City, the volcano (Mol), and everything else. There were some steampunk elements mixed in with some mythology, fantasy and sci-fi, and all of this blended together, in theory, should create the most fascinating whimsical world. Yet, right now, I don’t feel like I know anything about it!
This really is my biggest issue with the book, and why I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have done: the world-building. We were given the bare-bones and the general gist of everything that's happening, but it wasn't fleshed out or explained with enough detail to create a clear picture. It’s a pity actually, as I was really intrigued by what was presented but I really struggled to keep everything straight in my head. Everything was explained so quickly! There were lots of little things mentioned, but before we got the chance to find out about them, we’d fly off to something new without really finding out how it relates to the overall world. It made everything seem disjointed and a bit all over the place, if I'm honest. Now, it is a fast paced book, but I’d kind of prefer a slightly slower pace where enough detail was provided to get a clear picture of the world being described.
I read an eARC, so I’m not too sure what the finished physical book looks like, but it would be SO AWESOME (and helpful!) if it contained a map of Caldaras City and the surrounding areas. With all the street names and other places that crop up, having a map to keep them all in order and to help see where things are situated in relation to everything else would have been a huge help.
I thought the characters were good, but none of them really held my attention for too long. Redwing, for lack of a given name, is our narrator, and as the book went along I did end up really liking her narrative. She can be quite snarky and sarcastic, and she’s got some really funny one-liners, yet, I didn’t really care about her or what she was going through. See, she was meant to have been locked up in a tower for eighteen years, right? Well, she sure had a lot of freedom for someone trapped in a tower! Maybe this is where the Rapunzel-vibes I got from the synopsis got in the way and influenced my expectations? Also, she didn’t seem as socially awkward as I would have expected someone in her situation to be. I felt this issue was glossed over a little too quickly, personally. Or maybe I just didn’t ‘get’ her?
I’m really on the fence with this one. On one hand, the concept of The Hidden Twin is awesome! Yet, I though the lack of world building really let the story down. I really wish I could have given more than a 3 star rating. You don’t come across that many standalone fantasy books, and I was really looking forward to finding one I could love and recommend. The mythology created around Redwings is awesome and so intriguing, yet I don’t feel I got to experience the world clearly enough to fully appreciate it. Oh well, maybe next time!