Hidden Deep

Hidden Deep

Hidden Deep was written by Amy Patrick and first published in 2015. It is a paranormal romance about a teenage girl who falls madly in love with a mysterious stranger who lives in the woods near her home. The novel forms the first part of The Hidden Trilogy but at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Ryann’s life is thrown into disarray due to her father’s affair. Her mother has become bitter about relationships in general and they have been forced to move out of the city and to the edge of civilization. The one good thing about moving to her Grandmother’s log cabin are the woods that surround it. The forest holds a special importance to Ryann and she is eager to explore them once again.

Ten years previously, Ryann got lost in the woods and nearly froze to death. It was only the intervention of a strange little boy that saved her life. As Ryann hikes in the woods, she soon comes face to face with that same boy. Now aged seventeen, Lad is beautiful and perfectly proportioned but there is still something odd about him. He never wears shoes, seems to have no knowledge of pop-culture and can move through the treetops with unnatural grace. Yet, despite his eccentricities, Ryann quickly finds herself falling for him.

Yet their relationship is not meant to be. Lad’s people are incredibly secretive and would not welcome Ryann into their community. To make matters worse, Lad’s time is running short. He will soon come of age and be expected to play a more important role in his family’s business. Although he wants nothing more than to be with Ryann, he will soon have to make a terrible decision – his own happiness or the safety of his people.

I have said many times before that I struggle review paranormal romances. I’ve discovered over the course of writing this blog that it’s not down to a disliking of the genre (there are a few paranormal romances that I’ve read that I thought were superb) but I just don’t seem to enjoy them as much as other people seem to. Hidden Deep is no exception. I can see on Goodreads that it seems to have netted a decent number of positive reviews, yet I just couldn’t get into it. As always, my reviews are based around my personal feelings towards novels, so let me tell you why.

Patrick clearly knows how to write. The prose in the novel flows well and seemed to have a nice balance to – just descriptive enough to give the reader an impression of what Lad’s world is like without forcing too much superfluous information on them. However, the plot and characterisation still left a lot to be desired.

To start with the plot, Hidden Deep simply was nothing new and so it was incredibly forgettable. On a basic level, it contained all of the standard tropes that appear in 90% of paranormal romances. The mysterious boy who has a “secret” but can’t tell the heroine until half-way through the story; the handsome bad-boy who forms the third wall of the inevitable love triangle; the race of mysterious beings (in this case elves) who shun human contact because humans are evil; and, the slightly sinister off-shoot of that race who have different ideals and pose a threat to humans. While Hidden Deep shook off some of the genre’s typical angst by having a love interest who did not hunger for human flesh, it still did not do anything to make itself stand out amongst the deluge of similar novels.

Although Patrick did attempt to build Lad’s world, it still did not really feel as though she scratched its surface. The elves in this story did not seem to have any distinct features – they merely were incredibly beautiful humans who were able to communicate with each other telepathically. Lad seemed fairly convinced that humans would not accept them but I could not see why. They aren’t threatening and don’t possess any strange habits. I’m fairly sure that very pretty humans could easily fit in around us regular folk.

On top of this, the more original aspects of the story just fade into the background and ultimately come to nothing. I genuinely wanted to learn more about the “Fan Pods”. These were essentially celebrity internships where teenagers could apply to become official groupies, but the latter chapters of the novel began to imply that they had very sinister connotations. However, the Fan Pods were only mentioned a couple of times within the story and so I never fully understood how they worked or what being part of one entailed.

The overall plot of the novel is also incredibly saccharine and loaded with coincidences. There is no real conflict in the story or any sense of tension as, beyond the romance, there really wasn’t much substance to this novel. Although the story had many twists, all of them were so heavily signposted that I guessed every single one before the half-way point. Except for the fact that sweet tea was the solution to all life’s problems but, really, who would have guessed that? It seemed at times that the story really wanted to take a dramatic turn but Ryann was so focused on her own “issues” that she seemed fairly oblivious to everyone else around her. Which leads me to the thing that I disliked the most about this story…

Ryann is a despicable human being. Well, okay, maybe that’s a little harsh as she did eventually begin to see the error of her ways but by this point the damage was already done. Throughout the story, she thinks of no one but herself. She is incredibly immature for a sixteen year old – constantly trying to ensure her own happiness and completely disregarding how her actions could hurt others. On two separate occasions she leads Nox on in order to make Lad jealous and she never seems to take Lad’s belief in mating for life seriously, teasing him along constantly in order to get him to change his mind. In fact, changing people seems to be a large theme of this novel. There is never a feeling of Ryann accepting someone for who they are, instead she whines and bullies people until she gets her own way. Which she, of course, inevitably does but that just goes to show that there is no justice in the world.

The other characters in the story also were pretty easy to dislike. While Lad was by far the most sympathetic of the bunch, he still had a bit of a mean streak (telling Ryann that he will murder any other boys who flirt with her is a bit much), while most of the rest ranged from frustrating to just plain horrible. Ryann’s mother meets Lad once and decides that she doesn’t like him, yet is perfectly happy for her daughter to date a handsome bad-boy (whom she has also only met once). Nox’s tendency to keep forcing himself on Ryann is also pretty revolting. Every scene he appears in, he seems to wind up forcibly kissing her. For me, this isn’t seductive – it’s abuse. I wanted nothing more than for Ryann to kick him in the nuts but, of course, she didn’t because she never seemed to know what she wanted.

Anyhow, I’m starting to rant now so it’s probably time to wrap up this review. As you might be able to tell, I didn’t get on with Hidden Deep. The plot is unoriginal, the world building is a little weak and Ryann is a thoroughly dislikeable protagonist. While I will revisit this series in a later review to see if it improves, I’m not really in any hurry to do so any time soon. Maybe paranormal romance fans will get a kick out of this story but there are far better novels out there.

Hidden Deep can be purchased as an eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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  1. Trackback: The Deception Dance | Arkham Reviews

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