Tuesday, June 08, 2021

The Hidden Knife

Marr, Melissa. The Hidden Knife
June 1st 2021 by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus
Twenty years in the past, the kingdom of the Glass Queen has a World Door opened into it from the Netherwhere, and all manner of magical creatures enter. Fairies, kelpies, and gargoyles all come in and become part of the world. One gargoyle, Rupert, is discovered by four children, and takes them under his protection. Tik, Nightshade, Sweeney, and Kat are all students who are training to be Ravens, who protect the Glass Queen. They grow up to go their separate ways, and Kat leaves the Ravens, which is very much frowned upon, and has three children. Victoria, or Vicky, suffers a devastating loss and ends up at the Corvus school with Algernon, Nightshade's son, who is supposed to grow up to be the queen's poisoner like his father, who joins him at the school along with Milan, a thief the family has fostered. Vicky is assigned to a combat dorm, which is rare for a girl, but she is joined also by Ida, Nora, and Merry. Vicky wants revenge, and Algernon and Milan have their agendas as well. The children find that the queen is evil, but might be able to be cured, and there are secrets about family backgrounds that come out as well. 

This read very much like the first book in a series, so ended a bit abruptly. Also, there were lots of twists and turns that I didn't want to give away. 

Strengths: This reminded me a bit of George's The Rose Legacy, or Sarah Durst's books, which has been very popular in my library. This seems set in an earlier, possibly Victorian time, since one of the teachers wears a dress with a bustle and there is a lack of technology. The inclusion of gargoyles and other creatures is interesting, and there is even a dragonet. Vicky is a very driven and determined character who is taking her education seriously so she can avenge her family. There is a genderfluid chimera and the Netherwhere is an interesting concept. 
Weaknesses: I prefer fantasy books that have worlds I enjoy being in, even if they are beset by problems. I found Vicky's world, especially after her tragedy, to be rather unpleasant, so I struggled with this one a bit. 
What I really think: The Corvus school is interesting, and I was particularly drawn to the Nightshade family and their involvement with everything. I have a small but fervent group of fantasy readers who might like this one, but I'm still debating.

Ms. Yingling

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