My dear bookish friends,
Those of you who love Celtic mythology: Listen up, I’ve got a great book recommendation for you! If you, like me, love to read about fantasy worlds and magic and adventure and fairies, then The Hidden King is the book for you! Big thank you to TheWriteReads and the author for the ebook and my spot on this tour (neither influenced my review or rating in any way). Please read on for a blurb of the book as well as my detailed review!
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 tragedy strikes, a desperate Áed risks a treacherous, life-changing journey in his last chance to save the only family he has left – but an ancient legacy smoldering within him is about to turn deadly. Neither he – nor a kingdom – will ever be the same.
The Hidden King by E.G. Radcliff is a fantasy novel influenced by Celtic mythology which I love; it is well-crafted and well-written and had me hooked from page one!
The story follows Áed who, as his life is turned upside down, tries to make a new home in a different place. Áed is determined, loyal, focused, and, what I loved most of all, so devoted to his family. His partner Ninian and their adoptive son Ronan – a sweet, bright and innocent, but sometimes also stubborn seven year old – are what is most important to Áed, and I found their relationship heartwarming and lovely to read about. So loving and caring, I wish everyone had loved ones like that!
Ninian is such a great character too! While he is just as devoted to their little family as Áed, he is a little more sarcastic or even snappy at times, but also determined and strong-willed. As one of the ‘ancient nobles’, Ninian is one of the few people who can read.
At the beginning of the story we find Ninian in a fight and Áed helping him get out. That is the reality of ‘The Maze’ – the dirty, poor, and dangerous place that is filled with gangs, thieves, and all sorts of other criminals. Living in an abandoned building on the outskirts of town, Áed & co are trying to stay out of trouble as best as they can. But then there is a different place calling: ‘The White City’ where the king and the rich people live is rumoured to be the exact opposite of the Maze. And that’s where Áed wants to take his family.
I loved how character-driven this book was. While there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, some of them are a little predictable, but that doesn’t take away from the joy of reading at all. The characters and the wonderfully immersive writing style are clearly what make this book as great as it is.
I thought the way that Radcliff crafted a divide between the people living in the Maze and in the White City was very clever. While being inherently different, both places celebrate the same festival for the Fae living on the other side of the veil. I would have liked a bit more detail on this, but the Fae seem to be rather disliked by the people, and even though they have the ability to draw on the Fae’s magic they rather choose not to, as they are seen as manipulative creatures that should be kept happy but otherwise avoided.
While we do get quite a bit of an insight into the magic and the whole system, I would love to get a bit more detail on this in the next books – just because I love it so much and fairies are one of my favourite mythological creatures to read about!
All in all I can say that I absolutely loved the world Radcliff has created. Áed and Ninian make a lovely couple and together with the boy they found they are such a cute family. I loved their strong bond! I also loved that Radcliff chose to feature a lovely m/m couple and also offers great disability rep!
If you like fantasy stories influenced by Celtic mythology and filled with magic, fairies, danger, a great worldbuiling and even greater characters, then The Hidden King is the book for you! It’s enterntaining and unique, and you will not be disappointed! 4.5 stars from me!
Have you read The Hidden King or are you planning to? Do let me know what you think!
Thank you all so much for reading!