Hidden by Benedict Jacka

(7.5/10)

Released late 2014, it’s taken me a little bit longer than I would have liked to get to ‘Hidden’ by Benedict Jacka. But prowling around my library the other night, looking for something fun to read, I spied Hidden, living up to its name amidst a pile of ‘to-read’ books. I quickly sped through the last few chapters of its predecessor, ‘Chosen’ (which I loved) and jumped into Hidden.

And could not for the life of me remember why I had waited so long.

Hidden is the fifth book in the author’s ‘Alex Verus’ series of novels set in a modern-day London with magic all around. There’s no use jumping in at this point of the series, as you’ll not only be somewhat lost, but you’ll miss out on some of the most creative character building and growth currently being published.

Such focus on the character is what makes Benedict Jacka books so impressive, and so beloved. As Jim Butcher is quoted on the front cover as saying, “books this good remind me why I got into the storytelling business in the first place.” And he’s right – in fact, within moments of finishing Hidden, I was sitting at my computer vomiting the basics of a story onto my Mac (my PC had, momentarily, been sidelined).

Benedict Jacka not only brings you into his own world, but he inspires you to mimic his abilities – to go and write good story.

This book could very easily be considered the second-half of Chosen, the fourth book in the series, as its primary storyline is the continuing relationship between our lead character, Alex Verus, and Anne Walker. While we, the reader, are pretty certain they both have feelings for one another, neither Alex nor Anne have any clue, allowing us the opportunity to follow along as they build this intensely powerful relationship.

In fact, the majority of the book takes place in just such a manner as to allow their relationship – its strengths and weaknesses, their friendship, trust, and feelings for one another – to take centre stage.

Sure, it’s surrounded by fantastic fight sequences, with a magic system that relies on Brandon Sanderson’s Second Law of Magic, ie, that limitations and weaknesses to a magic system can create better story than a plethora of magical powers can. Sure, the stakes are high, and you’re honestly a little worried how things are going to turn out in the end. But through it all, Alex and Anne’s relationship is the driving focus of this particular story, allowing the final chapter (and, in particular, the final scene) to be all the more emotionally satisfying.

More than simply recommending Hidden, by Benedict Jacka, to you, I want to use Hidden as a reason that you should be reading the entire Alex Verus series! Beautifully written, with characters wrought wholly in three dimensions that tug at your heartstrings and make you angry, this series is the current high point for urban fantasy – no questions asked.
Joshua S Hill, 9/10

It’s a great view from up here on my pedestal, as they say.  My glibness comes from the view that I really cannot appreciate the reasoning for this particular addition to the Alex Verus universe.

The issues I had with the story was a continual sense of repetition of plot, characters and themes, mixed with only a small amount of original content.

--Spoiler begin--
In Hidden, we have the re-emergence of Crystal, the Mage who originally kidnapped Anne in order to drain her life force doing the same thing again but in a slightly different setting. 
--Spoiler end--

The original content - when it does appear - I enjoyed the best, mostly concerned the possibility of Alex's old Dark Master Richard returning as well as the final chapters regarding the rescue of Anne, all of which are written well and I couldn't fault. However, even the new characters felt like copies of other villains we have seen, apprentices working for Dark Mage Masters, stupid and drunk with power.

While I think a certain reuse of core themes is important and wanted, Hidden feels more like Taken (book #3) but now with some of Alex's friends pissed off at him and a few not having much to do. As a big fan I was hoping for a little more.

I may have begun this review with some issues but don’t get me wrong, Jacka's writing is still familiar, flowing and smooth, providing a rich, fully cemented character and story structure, which does make up for the story's pace and lack of variety. It could best be described in terms of a slope graph with a 10% incline with an occasion short blip (you will have to get through the first five chapters - nearly half the book - before you get some magical/physical action), before spiking to 100 in the last few chapters.

The new concepts, as well as the expansion of some old elements are done well. The idea behind the blink fox was a particular aspect that I enjoyed greatly and can see much fun coming from the fox/Alex interaction. There is some solid emotional expression, which reads wonderfully in the why of Sonder's and Anne's anger with Alex.

The same can also be said for the action scenes when they do occur, one which particularly stands out.

--Spoiler begin--  

When Alex is squaring off against Sagash's apprentice trying and finding a way into the Shadow Realm, the combat is direct, fierce and well written. Just the way it should be. 

--Spoiler end--

In this the fifth book we begin to get a deeper look into the world and politics of the dark mages, best described as this: Power is not given but taken.  If you can't keep it, then you don’t deserve it. There is a simplicity in how the dark mages interact which comes across well in the story line and character interactions.  Sometime authors can write their villains a little too Machiavellian when it's not really needed or wanted.

At its heart, I feel this story would shine all the brighter as a novella, highlighting the return of Richard, Alex's old Master, and the fear and anxiety it causes him, adding the stress factor of Anne's kidnapping and rescue.

Friend, enemy, villain or hero. When your friends cannot tell you which they think you are, do you leave them to their faith or risk everything to show them who you truly are.
Fergus McCartan, 6/10

 

Reviews by and Fergus McCartan

Our interview with Benedict Jacka

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J. R. R. Tolkien, The [...]

Read interview

15+

All reviews for Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series series

Fated

by Benedict Jacka

Hidden in the lanes and byways of Camden London sits a shop, just a little shop, but if you know where to find it and have need of something a little magical, then the Arca [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 1
Published: 0000

Score: 75

Our rating: 7.5 | positive reader reviews

15+

Bound

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus can see the future. But he never thought he'd see this day. Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he' [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 10
Published: 2015

Score: 60

Our rating: 6.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

Cursed

by Benedict Jacka

Things are going well for Alex Verus. He's on moderately good terms with the Council, his apprentice is settling in and his shop in Camden is gaining quite a reputation [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 2
Published: 0000

Score: 78

Our rating: 7.8 | positive reader reviews

15+

Taken

by Benedict Jacka

Welcome to Fountain Reach. Ancient seat of the Aubuchon dynasty. Majestic setting of the White Stone tournament. Alex Verus's (not necessarily reliable) reputation attr [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 3
Published: 0000

Score: 78

Our rating: 7.8 | positive reader reviews

15+

Chosen

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus is a diviner who can see probable futures--a talent that's gotten him out of many a tough scrape. But this time, he may be in over his head. Alex was once ap [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 4
Published: 2013

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

Hidden

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus is a diviner who can see probable futures - a talent that's gotten him and his friends out of many a tough scrape. But what happens when someone doesn't [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 5
Published: 0000

Score: 75

Our rating: 7.5 | positive reader reviews

15+

Veiled

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus is a mage who can see the future, but even he didn't see this day coming. He's agreed to join the Keepers, the magical police force, to protect his frien [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 6
Published: 2015

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

12+

Burned

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus has a magic shop in Camden, London, and an uncanny ability to see the future. But suddenly everyone can see Alex's future. Because the Mage's Counci [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 7
Published: 2016

Score: 90

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

Marked

by Benedict Jacka

Alex Verus is tracking down dangerous magical items unleashed into the world by Dark Mages - however, when the Light Council decide they need his help in negotiating with t [...]

Series: Alex Verus series: Book 9
Published: 2018

Score: 65

Our rating: 6.5 | positive reader reviews

12+

Hidden reader reviews

7.5/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Name of the Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I [...]

Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 1
Published: 2007

Score: 154

Our rating: 9.6 | 49 positive reader reviews

15+

Seven Blades in Black

by Sam Sykes

Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of [...]

Series: The Grave of Empires: Book 1
Published: 2019

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.5 | 1 positive reader reviews

15+

The Obsidian Tower

by Melissa Caruso

'Guard the tower, ward the stone. Find your answers writ in bone. Keep your trust through wits or war--nothing must unseal the door.'Deep within Gloamingard [...]

Series: The Gate of Secrets
Published: 2020

Score: 93

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

The Limits of Enchantment

by Graham Joyce

England, 1966: Everything Fern Cullen knows she's learned from Mammy - and none of it's conventional. Taught midwifery at an early age, Fern becomes Mammy's tru [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2005

Score: 0

Our rating: 9.4 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+