Book Review: Hidden by Benedict Jacka

Posted April 17, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Book Review: Hidden by Benedict Jacka

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hidden by Benedict Jacka
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Orbit on September 2, 2014
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: the library


Alex's friend, the life mage Anne, distanced herself from him when she found out about his past as a Dark apprentice. Now she's in serious trouble, but wants nothing to do with him. Alex has to start wondering if Anne's problem is really with him - or if there's a secret she's trying to hide.

On top of that, rumours are swirling around London that Alex's former master may be back in town. Alex has no idea what his agenda may be, or who it involves.

Also by this author: Bound, Fallen, Forged

Fifth in the Alex Verus urban fantasy series set in London and revolving around Alex, a diviner.

My Take

That was unexpected, and very sad. All those problems Anne is having, the help she’s trying to provide, and then Varian explains that Anne comes across as creepy, to everyone but Alex. Light problems are not the only ones Anne is having, seems she has some hypocritical issues as well. The way she comes down on Alex is really herself with whom she’s so angry. I felt for her, but I was more angry than anything. The bitch. If ya got problems, don’t project them onto others. Don’t judge others for your issues.

It’s a horrible world for magic users of either side. If you’re on your own, any mage can legally kidnap you and force you into their household. If you’re an apprentice, then at least you have a mage to miss you, demand you back, fight to get you back. Dark mages in particular like taking slaves, some want them for experiments, some use them as fuel sources, and worse.

Alex is also getting a conscience, becoming concerned about his friends, and not focusing solely on himself. Sonder has a conscience as well, and while I understand his point of view, I can’t agree with him. Supposedly, hindsight should provide alternative ways of dealing with life-and-death situations, but funnily enough, neither Anne nor Sonder can come up with different scenarios for what they’re accusing Alex of.

Hmmm, Sagash puts paid to the idea that Dark mages are omnipotent.

I like that Caldera is a Light mage with a conscience. What a switch-up that is!

Oh, lol, you’ll love Alex’s antics at Jagadev’s party. Quite clever.

There’s a good chunk of back history on Alex, what tipped him over to the Dark side. It’s a lesson I could wish that school administrators, teachers, and parents would take to heart as it’s going on in our schools every day. It was like this when I was a kid. It happens at all levels and ages of society, and it’s bad for our civilization. Even if it is, unfortunately, normal for us. We also learn more about his time with Richard, with a startling revelation on Richard’s part. Makes me want to re-read Fated, 1.

Alex makes an excellent point about choice. No action on one person’s part is made in isolation. When one makes a choice in a bad situation, another person is usually there having made his/her choice.

Alex knows his father doesn’t approve, so why does he keep throwing his past and current actions in his father’s face and then wondering why his father reacts as he does? Duh. I do believe in doing well by people, and I don’t like violence. However, I’m also not going to lie down and take it. Nor am I going to lie down and let someone else get walked over.

I got to thinking about why I like this series, and I realized that no one is stupid. They may do stupid things, but they’re not actions that go against the character’s personality or their knowledge. The twist Jacka has put on magic in this is enticing as well. Taking the concept of Light and Dark and twisting it, turning it on its head with horrors existing within the Light and the Dark. No one can be trusted, except, perhaps, the Dark.

It’s a fascinating series, and there’s something cozy and frightening about it, all at the same time.

The Story

The result of that trap in Chosen, 4, has the Americans furious, and the only way Alex can get out of it is to investigate those rumors about Richard Drakh coming back.

Meanwhile, Anne is having problems with the Light while running her health clinic in South London. There are too many Dark mages interested in her, and she no longer has protection.

It’s tense, it’s terrifying, and it all comes down to choices.

The Characters

Alex Verus is a probability mage, a diviner, who owns the Arcana Emporium, a magic shop. Luna, a.k.a., Zarine, is his apprentice. She’s an adept with a curse attached. Alex’s father, a pacifist, is a political science professor. He thought Alex had gotten involved with criminals and that Richard had been a mob boss. Arachne is a magical creature, a spider who designs clothes, who lives under Hampstead Heath. She’s also Alex’s closest friend.

Variam had been one of Alex’s apprentices and has now signed on with a Light Keeper. He’s safe and hasn’t forgotten that Alex was the only mage to step up to help. Anne Walker, a life mage, had also been one of Alex’s apprentices and refuses to have anything more to do with Alex. She’s not safe. Not-Anne is a split from the Anne Alex knows, the killer side born in the ring. Sonder was another friend, a journeyman time mage, and he’s furious with Alex as well after those events in Chosen. But he still has a crush on Luna.

The Light Council is…
…the magical government of Britain with mages who are supposedly good. Natasha is a Light apprentice with a hate-on for Alex and Luna after events in Taken, 3. Talisid is part of the Council and has been grooming Alex. Levistus is one of Alex’s enemies. Caldera is a Council Keeper of the Order of the Star, a cross between a political investigator and military police.

Dark Mages
Richard Drakh was Alex’s nasty master for a number of years, and Alex thought he had died. Tobruk was a cruel and sadistic apprentice of Richard’s with a hate-on for the other apprentices. Jagadev is a rakshasa, a powerful tigerlike shapeshifter. Avis is important enough to be invited to events, but he mostly turns them down

Morden is a very powerful Dark mage who wants Alex as part of his coterie. Others include Onyx, Morden’s Chosen and a powerful, specialised batle-mage who wants Alex, to kill him; Ordith is at the party and probing at “Avis” for his master; and, Meredith is an enchantress and totally self-interested.

Sagash is the Dark death mage who kidnapped Anne and took her to his shadow realm. And from whom Variam helped her escape. Sagash has three apprentices: Darren Smith and Yun Ji-yeong are living family mages and Samuel Taylor is an elementalist.

Crystal is a mind magic mage, ex-Light Council, and on the list of most wanted (see Taken).

The Nightstalkers were…
…a group of American adepts who came after Alex in Chosen. Their leader was Will.

Life mages can kill someone, help them live, and enhance a person. They can paralyze, analyze, cure. I think living family magic can detect people around them. Elsewhere is a half-real place where you can go when you dream. A blink fox is a magic-bred creature used by mages to spy. An adept doesn’t have as much skill as a mage. A diviner sees into the future, all the possible futures.

The Cover and Title

I think the cover’s background is a map of Sagash’s shadow realm with its green tint gradating to cream in the large center, blue lines for the map itself, and then the fun part of it is the title. Someone had too much fun. The blink fox is teleporting across the letters, the I is a signpost, the second D has the silhouette of a castle in it that bleeds over to the E, the N has Alex leaning against it with its right leg looking like a clock tower.

Overtly the title is Sagash’s shadow realm, however, I think it can also apply to Alex wanting to hide away from Richard, to the mages wanting to keep their secrets from the public, Anne wanting to keep not-Anne in the Elsewhere, Crystal evading the Light Council… Yep, all sorts of people want to stay Hidden.

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3 responses to “Book Review: Hidden by Benedict Jacka

  1. Stormi

    Not heard of this series but it sounds like it might be pretty interesting so I will have to look it up. Great review Kathy! 🙂

  2. I wouldn’t call it an A list series, but it is fascinating. A completely different look at magic and their users. And as bad as the black magic users are, they are the more honest of the two. It is a series I have been enjoying, so I do recommend it.

    Glad y’all enjoyed my review *grin*

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