Thursday, 15 May 2014

Review of WHAT IS HIDDEN by Lauren Skidmore

Publication Date: May 13th 2014
Source: e-ARC provided by author for review purposes.

In a land of masquerades and mystery, Evie is a mask maker in Venesia, where masks represent rank and identity. When a cryptic bandit strips away Evie’s mask and destroys her home, she goes into hiding at the palace to find both a new identity—and revenge. Fantasy lovers will be caught up by the mystique, romance, and magic of "What Is Hidden."

*I Hereby Award This Book 5 Wings!*
First of all, I would like to say how absolutely stunning this cover is! I have hardly seen a cover more beautiful than this one.
I don't really know where to begin this review. It's been less than 24 hours since I finished it and my feelings are all stilll a jumble. I went to bed late last night after finishing it and my head was a mess of incoherent sentences, my face tear stained and my heart heavy and light at the same time. How? You ask. I don't technically know. The end had me happy in one way and sad/mad in another. Sad/mad because I now have to wait until probably next Summer before a sequel comes out. Honestly, the only bad thing I could find about this story was that it had to end. Right from the moment I started reading, I was lost, submerged in another world entirely. I wasn't just reading the book, I was living it. I have to say it is hands down THE best YA book I have read in a long time and there have been some fantastic ones lately. 

Evie is a mask maker. She lives in a world where everybody wears a mask. This is essentially the person's identity. They wear masks of a certain colour to show what occupation they have. The only ones other than outsiders that don't really wear masks are the Lacies. Who are the Lacies? Read the book and you'll find out! 
Evie lives and works with her father who also makes masks - she hopes one day to be as good at it as he is. But one day, Evie's life is turned inside out, back to front and upside down. She's left having to make a decision that forces her into hiding. She goes into hiding at the Palace as a server. Armed with her new identity, new job and new home, Evie must learn to hide who she was and where she's from. But there's one person in the world that would find her anywhere she went, Aiden. *swoons* I fell utterly head over heels in love with Aiden. He's kind, gentle, thoughtful, compassionate, everything you could want in a man. He's a good friend to Evie and she can't even begin to imagine what life would be like without him, so she's amazed at how he found her but happy that he did. 
Living at the Palace has its ups and downs, it's not plain sailing by any means. But with Aiden by her side, Evie believes she'll cope with the tiresome tasks the Kitchen Mistress has her doing. Aiden is at the Palace for reasons Evie does not know, but she doesn't really care, as long as she has him to turn to at the end of a long day. Aiden manages to make everything seem that much better.

Life for Evie is hard but she's a strong girl and she won't let anything break her, no matter how hard some people try. I admire her strength and courage, she's a fighter and I always love it when a character is so fiercely independent. There is nothing worse than a woman that needs a man to validate her - in life as well as in fiction. It's nice to see she is not a weeping little thing that everyone must feel sorry for. Yes, she's got it tough, but she's a survivor. It's great to see her grow throughout the story too. She flourishes beautifully. 

I fell in love with the magic of this storyline. I'll share with you my Goodreads status updates:
At 61%:  "This story is amazing. There's no better way to describe it, at least without the aid of a dictionary and too many characters for this status update! The neat little twists & turns have me marvelling and my head spinning. I am so carried away by the story arc. It's emotional, funny, heart-wrenching and sad. I really feel for poor Evie." 
At 65%: "Aiden is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery. I love him (a LOT) and Evie is such a wonderful girl - I want a HEA!
Just ordered a signed copy of this book and I can't wait for it to arrive. It's so beautiful."
At 91%: "I am a blubbering, snotty mess right now. I hoped this was how it would play out."
But then just 2 pages later, I was thinking what the...?! I hadn't expected what happened. 
Then my last status was this: "Oh my sweet goodness!! What an ending! I have to say this is hands down THE best YA book I have read in a long time and there have been some pretty amazing ones, I can tell you. But this one? This had me glued to it with the intrigue of it all. I have cried so hard it's beyond words but I'll write my review tomorrow when I can think coherently. All I can say for now is WOW!!"
As you can see by these remarks, I really loved this book. It had it all; mystery, intrigue, great world and character building as well as a great bit of drama. There are such neat little twists and turns that you really don't see until they happen. There was one thing I hoped for with all my heart, but I won't tell you what it is or whether I got my wish. All I will say is, I really didn't want it to be the end, when I got to the last page, tear-stained face and all, I just wanted a sequel to be able to pick up right away. I went to bed with my head a jumble of thoughts and it is only now that I can begin to unravel them.

Lauren Skidmore is a very talented author and I am awestruck by the fact that this is her debut novel. As an author myself, I can only dream of my readers being as in love with my work as I am Lauren's. She's got a captive audience in me for as long as she continues to write. Whatever she writes, I will continue to devour. Especially if I get more Aiden. He's definitely worth the book-hangover I have right now. Though, I don't like these withdrawal symptoms!
Congratulations to a brilliant author on a beautifully written book that I hope goes on to become a best-seller. I am really looking forward to getting my signed copy in the mail! 

Thank you Lauren for the ARC, for the world I fell head over heels in to and thank you also for Aiden!! 

Lastly, thank you to anyone who came to read my review. I hope to see you here again soon!

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