Book Review: What is Hidden, by Lauren Skidmore

Since my trilogy-in-progress includes several fairy-tale references and retellings, my mother-in-law bought me this novel and its sequels (What is Lost, and The Fairest Poison) as Christmas gifts. I read them a while back, but am finally getting around to posting a review.

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First off, I will say I probably would have enjoyed this more several years ago before I got more serious about my own writing and learning more about the craft. Skidmore has some beautiful world-building to enjoy, and intriguing characters who feel real. There is a lot of potential in these books, but due to a lack of sufficient developmental editing (these are indie published), I found myself often confused or frustrated. I also caught quite a few copy edit errors– moreso in the second two books than in the first.

Some things about the plot and certain characters’ motivations just don’t always add up for me. Also, the main characters (each book is told from a different point-of-view) are all supposedly quite young (teens), but they feel much older/more experienced than I find it quite believable for them to be. There are twists galore, which would be more fun if they weren’t quite so predictable.

What I loved: as I said, Skidmore presents vibrant settings, and characters with whom it isn’t difficult to relate to on some level. She explores some intriguing concepts, for instance: a society where it’s considered immodest to show your full face so everyone wears masks over their eyes (or sometimes even their entire face); mask makers are constantly pushing the envelope on the next mask fashion (glass, anyone?); and “Grandmother” and “The Wolf” are secret code names.

Ms. Skidmore really has some intriguing ideas, and a skill for bringing her settings to life on the page. I think if she manages to find a better editorial team for future projects, and spends more time developing her plots, she’ll have much stronger writing in the future.

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