Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 22nd 2016
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.
I am going to go ahead and assume this book is a standalone, since I see no indication otherwise. That does affect my feelings, so I wanted to put that out there. You’ll see why later. I tried to do some internet stalking, but found no mention of one- only several reviewers questioning if there would be one. Oh, and since the lovely people at St. Martin’s sent me an ARC and then a very pretty finished copy, I am going to give one of you my ARC! (Because I am selfishly keeping the pretty finished copy for myself. Not even sorry.)
Anyway. This was a fairly even split of positives and negatives- so a middle rating is in order. I have no other words for “good” and “not so good” so, have some smiley faces.
- The premise is kind of amazing, right? Right off the bat I enjoyed that her family didn’t just cave to pressure and drown their baby. Because who drowns their baby!? But of course, now our unnamed main character lives- and that’s about the only thing she does. She can’t be seen anywhere near her twin, Jey, because obviously everyone will know she’s a twin.
- Twins switching places is always fun. I like it. I had friends who were twins, and they always switched in high school and even college. I had no idea how our teachers couldn’t tell them apart, but they couldn’t- or didn’t care enough to. Anyway, I always enjoy this particular trope. Only Jey and No Name aren’t exactly the same, because No Name has like, marks on her, and special powers, and is potentially evil. You know, the everyday things that all twins go through.
- No Name is kind of badass and snarky, and I liked it. She doesn’t agree with this “you’re supposed to be dead” business. And once she has a taste of the world… well, she’s fun. The thoughts in her head are a lot like the thoughts in my head, so that’s fun. Plus, she’s quite resourceful.
- The rebel group is pretty great too. When they came into the picture, the book really picked up for me. They were smart, and they had plans, and they were going to do things to change this society. I approve!
- The aforementioned society is kind of confusing. There are all kinds of different baddies. And some of the priests are baddies? Or maybe all of them? See, it’s really confusing. There were names and phrases that just never made sense to me, I think because there were so many of them that my brain stopped trying to compute.
- To that end, the world-building was lacking for me too. It all takes place in one… country? City? I don’t know, but there’s royalty. So some kind of place ruled by people, but also priests. I kept wondering where the rest of the world was- or even if the was a “rest of the world”. Maybe it was just this one place?
- The sister, who had been an integral part of the story, turns into a real jerk and then is out of the picture for most of the time, with the occasional reference. Dad also handily goes missing for a great case of Parent-in-YA Syndrome. (Mom is dead, because I guess you die if you don’t drown your devil baby.)
- I didn’t really feel a huge connection to any of the characters, even though I found some of them entertaining.
- There were just a lot of loose ends and unanswered questions for me when the book was done. While staying vague, there were loose ends romantically, with the main character’s family members, with the world in general, and a lot of information about the “others” in general. So if there was a sequel, I think I could have been more satisfied with there being questions, but since this is currently a standalone, there were just too many topics that were unsettled.
Bottom Line: It was entertaining and I enjoyed certain aspects, but the confusion of the world and its members and the general lack of connection and cohesion were turn offs.