Author: Adi Rule
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Rating: 2.5 Stars
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. -Goodreads
The story of the hidden one's life, lived in shadow, secrecy, and constant fear of discovery; is one that makes readers both feel for her and long to see how her plight will evolve. The more of her that we come to know; the more we come to see the hiding away of such an intelligent, resourceful, and interesting person as the travesty that it is.
This is a very difficult review to write because this story suffers from a rather pervasive lack of consistency in world building, plot/character development, and pacing.
This story is written as if it were a sequel. As though all of the questions that readers would have about things like the twin's childhoods, their mother, and the details of their lives and their world have already been addressed. When in truth, all the reader has to go on is a rather vague reference or two by their father.
Because the scope of the hidden twin's world view has been limited to the that of home, and the few areas around the city that she can manage to sneak off to. The world view that readers experience is sadly minuscule as well. This is a problem that could have easily found its fix through the eyes of supporting characters such as her father and sister. Given the fact however, that both her father and sister have been painted with the same impressionistic haziness that seems to color most every facet of this story. That seems a bit too much to ask.
The reason that world building is of such import to this story is that plot puts our heroine into contact with people who come with their own chunk of said world. Chunks that we as readers need to understand, in order to fully understand both the new character and how that character will impact our leading lady. Because these links are missing, readers are left unable to bond with characters other than the heroine. Thereby, turning what should be a great and inclusive story into a so so story with a nameless heroine as its only emotional or literal lifeline.
When taking into account that said nameless heroine must also manage to stay alive, save her world, and defeat a great and terrible foe. Saving a story, on top of it all, seems like overkill.
As dark and critical as this review may seem, there are things about this book that should be praised as well.
The lore surrounding Redwings is very compelling, and works well as a driving force behind both the hidden twin's fear of discovery, everyone else's fear of the beings themselves.
Our leading lady is a well crafted and fully realized character, worthy of all the praise and attention that this reviewer can give her.
If the the rest of the book were written with the time, care, and attention to detail that she received. There would be no question of a 5 Star status.
I write in a studio apartment filled with books, cats, pictures of cats, musical instruments, video games, records, and a macaw who refuses to say, "Shiver me timbers!" despite the fact that it would be the best thing ever. When I'm not writing, I may be found playing Triple Yahtzee with my grandmother or singing in the chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops, with whom I have also been a soloist.
I earned my MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I also have a BA in voice from the University of New Hampshire. I am represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.