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I Belong

Review: The Hidden Twin by Adi Rule

Title: The Hidden Twin

Author: Adi Rule

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: March 22, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250036321 (St. Martin’s Press)

ISBN-13: 978-1250036322 (St. Martin’s Press)

Reviewed by: Tara


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 new novel, The Hidden Twin, the girl with no name, must 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.

Quick & Dirty: This story had an interesting premise that promised magic, political intrigue, and interesting characters but ultimately failed to deliver on all counts.

Opening Sentence: We look like two ordinary girls.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I really wanted to like this book. The premise sounded amazing and, after reading the first few scenes, I thought that I would like it. Then I kept reading and noticed the gaping holes in the world-building, the strange pacing of the plot, and the general air of confusion that permeated the latter half of the book. Additionally, I was never quite able to emotionally connect to the main character.

One of the first scenes involves the main character being attacked by priests in an alleyway. The reader has only just met her and learned the broad brushstrokes of her history (including the fact that she doesn’t have a name, which seemed bizarre to me). During the fight, she unleashes magic and, despite her stated wish to not hurt the men, beats one of them almost to death after he has already surrendered. At this point, she says:

“I am a monster. I’m sorry. I—I wasn’t certain of that until just now, to be honest.” I don’t know why I say it.

To be entirely honest, I was kind of hoping for a Kaz Brekker-esque origin story after this scene, where she embraces the darkness within her unashamedly and learns master to use her power. Up until around the halfway point, I had hopes that the story would take a darker turn and explore that side of no name. Those hopes were utterly disappointed. As it was, she wavers between saying that she’s good and doing monstrous things. There is no attempt to investigate her magic further, which was likely due to the poor world-building, and very little character development. I wasn’t able to relate to the main character at all throughout the book, which likely hindered my ability to fully enjoy the story.

Besides the flaws with the main character (seriously, how does she not even have a name for most of the novel?), the world-building was confusing and barely present. I’m honestly not sure if there was more than one country in the world, what the class system looked like, and what the history of the city was. There seemed to be two types of priests but it’s not made very clear what the distinction is or how it came to be. I think that the world had the potential to be very interesting but I was just left with too many questions overall.

I thought that there was a decent balance between action and quieter scenes until the end. However, none of the scenes really packed that emotionally punch that I like in my fantasy. I was pretty ambivalent about most of what happened in the novel. The end was somewhat of a hot mess, which led to very important things being explained in about two lines. I actually had to go back and read one section over before I understood everything that happened. Some of the events seemed to come from nowhere and I never really was able to see what various character’s motivations were.

While the story did pick up toward the end, it never was good enough to save the book. Additionally, I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I do believe that this book has the potential to be good but, unfortunately, that potential was never realized.

Notable Scene:

And for the first time, I feel it—a burning, stabbing surge that shoots from the soles of my feet up through my legs, my guts, my heart, out through my fingers. The hot core of the land, the scalding blood of Caldaras itself rises through my body, joins with my spirit. We are one, it whispers wordlessly. We are everything.

I lash out at the priest, a release, an exhalation.

After only a moment, I tamp the surge of energy back down into my core, into the earth below, terrified of what I might unleash.

But now the priest is on fire.

Well. I’ve never done that before.

FTC Advisory: St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Hidden Twin. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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