Monday, February 06, 2012

Review: Hidden by Kelley Armstrong

Hidden by Kelley Armstrong
published by Subterranean Press in December 2011
Hiking through the snow, holiday baking and playing board games by the fire – what’s not to love about an old-fashioned family Christmas?

Werewolves Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers want to give their four-year-old twins, Kate and Logan, something their parents never had: a nice, normal holiday. No Pack responsibilities, no homicidal half-demons or power-hungry sorcerers to deal with – just the four of them, alone, at a chalet outside Ontario’s Algonquin Park.

Then a strange werewolf shows up at their door…while the town is buzzing about a young man, back from college, found half-eaten in the woods. And there’s the missing little girl…

With all the signs pointing to a rogue mutt with a taste for human flesh, Elena and Clay have no choice but to investigate. But are they the hunters – or the hunted?
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld, Book #10.4

The Story: It is pretty much as the synopsis describes. In Hidden, Elena and Clayton have planned to celebrate Christmas with their twins, Logan and Kate, at a cabin in Ontario. Unfortunately, plans are disrupted when it appears there is a mutt in the neighborhood and they must assess the threat.

However, what worries Elena the most is a personal problem. As the twins are growing up, it's becoming increasingly hard to hide their werewolves nature from the twins and Elena is faced with the dilemma of revealing the truth or continuing the charade.

My Opinion: The Women of the Otherworld series holds a special place in my heart :) It's one of the first urban fantasy series I've read and also one of my favorites! I love the world and the characters Ms Armstrong has created. Although, I admit that in the past couple of years, I've dropped the ball a little bit ^_^; Basically, it's because Ms Armstrong is wrapping up the series with a trilogy featuring Savannah... Savannah has never been my favorite character and I figure I'd stack up the deck by reading the whole trilogy in one go instead of waiting a year in between book :) However, when I heard that Ms Armstrong was coming out with a novella featuring Elena, Clay and the twins? There was no doubt that I'd move heaven and earth to get my hands on it!

Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed Hidden :) Where to start? LOL. I looooved seeing Elena and Clay as parents and their interactions with the twins! It was just so sweet! We've witnessed Elena and Clay's relationship evolved throughout the series, from Elena and Clay's reconciliation to Elena's concerns about them becoming parents and up to this point. I have to say, I'm really glad Ms Armstrong took this step with this relationship and the way she developed it. Yes, it was the natural and logical next move in their relationship, but I don't think it was an easy one to execute and therefore Ms Armstrong was very brave. And execute she definitively did :) As I mentioned, I loved seeing Elena and Clay as parents. It's hard to be good parents, but it's even harder when you're werewolves! It's especially hard for Elena as she became an orphan at a young age, was moved from one foster home to another and therefore, didn't have a great childhood. I find her insecurity very realistic, but she doesn't let it show when she interacts with her children and with the support of Jeremy, both she and Clay are formidable parents in my opinion :) I also love that parenthood has strengthened their love as well :) I think it was great to see them wanting each other as much as they did in the beginning, perhaps even more. All in all, I think Elena and Clay have achieved the ultimate HEA ending and I'm glad for them!

We've seen glimpses of Kate and Logan in the past, but Hidden was really a treat :)  Obviously, the twins are a bit precocious, but I think, overall, it worked LOL. They do remind me a lot of Clay! I also liked that Kate and Logan each had their own personality. I thought once again Ms Armstrong did a great job with the characterization, but for me, it was really the bond between the twins. The ribbing between siblings, the subtle rivalry, the chemistry and connection :) You can see that even as such a young age, their bond is unbreakable :)

I was really surprised to find out that Elena and Clay had not told the twins about being werewolves. It was definitively interesting to see Elena's feelings and approach to the dilemma and as it was explained, it was totally understandable. I assumed that Logan and Kate would both turn into werewolves... but it's true that Clay and Elena were both bitten and Elena is the only female werewolf, so nothing is guaranteed. As such, I can understand why she's so cautious and worried. I think this was definitively the most interesting storyline of the book. As for the mystery, it was okay. It wasn't particularly suspenseful or as strong as what we're used to with Ms Armstrong, but then again, Hidden was quite short. Plus, it really wasn't meant to be the focus of this book. Another element that I enjoyed in Hidden was the Pack. We got to see the new dynamics of the Pack with the inclusion of the twins and the two new members, Reese and Noah. Reese and Noah are two young werewolves and I feel that's exactly what the Pack needed. And it was great to see Nick in the role of a big brother :) By the way, still love the connection between Elena-Clay-Nick.

My only complaint about this book would be the publication itself. Hidden was published by Subterranean Press and as such, is not cheap. I didn't mind the price so much, because I'm really a hardcore fan and I think that's the audience the author and publisher had in mind. Also, I think this is a good length novella and the binding of the hardcover is good quality... but, I was expecting more illustrations. Ms Armstrong's website indicates 6 illustrations and there were 4. I wonder if it's because I got the hardcover copy as opposed to the leather-bound one. Also, if the publisher has gone to such length, it would have been cool that the illustrations coordinate with the text.

My Grade: A-. I really, really enjoyed Hidden. I think it was a great book and I simply loved re-visiting Elena and Clay and the Pack. Throughout the story, I picked up little references to the past and it really made me want to go back and re-read the series, especially Savage. Clay will never, never, never live down the guinea pig!! LOL! I also loved reading more about the twins and discovering the new dynamics :) This book was definitively meant to be for the fans and please them... and it pleased me enormously. It was a real joy to read Elena and Clay's HEA ending and it really tied up some loose ends... for now :) I definitively hope that Ms Armstrong will be re-visiting this series in the future. For now, if you are a fan of Clay and Elena, do not miss Hidden :)