The Hidden Face was an interesting read – it’s a YA style adventure with a smattering of adult themes and some slightly risqué content. While I hate to do the “it’s X meets Y” thing in my reviews, I genuinely think in this instance it would be fair to say that it’s The Da Vinci Code meets Indiana Jones in a fantasy setting. Not my typical fare these days, but as a teenager I guarantee I would have eaten this up with a spoon.
The Hidden Face is a mystical entity, the Sun God, who appears every few hundred years to a different nation to grant them a great boon of prosperity and power. Faustia was the last beneficiary, but their time is drawing to a close and the Hidden Face is due to reappear elsewhere soon. Unfortunately for Faustia, their emperor has done a bit of a Théoden and spent time that he should have used to create strong alliances being manipulated into a position of weakness.
On to our protagonists:
Dayraven is the son of a great hero of the Faustian empire, and here he returns to his home after 15 years spent as the ward (read: hostage) of their rivals, the Magians.
Sunniva is the warrior daughter of a great architect and archaeologist, who designed the temple where our story gets going.
A murder takes place in the temple, and from here our protagonists are hurled into a conspiracy that leads them through a series of riddles which they must solve together in a race against time, pursued by enemies of the empire. There’s a childhood rival, a femme fatale (with one particularly memorable scene involving a pair of goblets), a mad hunchback, a warrior who can communicate only through his tattoos and more. The pacing trundles along at a fair clip and the prose is uncomplicated, and as a result it’s quite a fast read.
I will say that a couple of issues I found I had were that the author writes the character’s names too frequently, where a “he” or “she” would suffice. The characters also repeat themselves enough that I found it a little distracting. But overall it’s a solidly plotted story in a unique setting with some genuinely great ideas and a lot of potential, and I think younger readers especially will find a great deal to enjoy.
r/Fantasy Bingo 2017 Squares
- Published in 2017
- Self Published Fantasy