A review by nineteen_adze
The Hidden City, by Michelle West


This was somewhere in the 3.75 or 4 star range for me.

Content warnings: moderate to severe;
Spoilerthe book features a lot of implied/ offscreen child abuse, including sexual abuse, and one offscreen rape of a far-underage girl. It's not graphic, but the dread and reality of the assault are pervasive elements.

The first half is quite strong, introducing a grumpy old(ish) man, a stubborn orphan with visions, and a complex world that feels alive. The second half is much slower, introducing a lot of secondary characters who don't get time to breathe. I think there would have been more room for that is there hadn't been so many internal monologue segments and guarded conversations about gaining information.

I don't mind when books move slowly, but to me this felt like the focus just wasn't always chosen well; I would have appreciated more character interactions and less long segments of people speculating about what the others are thinking or might do. Some emotional moments also seem slow or over-explained, especially in the second half. I'll probably try the next book for this readalong, but I really hope the pacing is better.