Parents' Guide to

The Hidden Knife

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Fantastic fantasy world, cool gargoyles, but rushed story.

Book Melissa Marr Fantasy 2021
The Hidden Knife Poster Image

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This fantasy begins with such a delightful fairy tale feel but lacks careful, detailed storytelling to sustain it. When the gargoyle narrates at the beginning, explaining his entrance into a world of humans, it's poetic and intriguing. He decides to become the guardian of families and their offspring who are close to the queen and are in danger. We see danger coming as the reader and we meet some talented kids who will eventually face it together -- a stress on eventually. It takes Vicky and Algernon a long time to really meet and make it to school, and only after a tragedy that happens awkwardly and jarringly late in The Hidden Knife.

So many aspects of the second half of this story could have used the cushioning of careful details and slower scenes. It's hard to really see the school in your mind's eye with so few pages dedicated to describing it and how it's run. There's also no real buildup to meeting a teacher Vicky isn't supposed to trust, just "there he is, he's a bad dude, run for it." Trips to the Netherwhere also feel rushed, like you're seeing the world in a sketchbook with so many details missing. It cheats the reader out of a truly immersive experience. Once you meet the cool gargoyles, of course you want to know all about where they're from. They deserve a story as wise and careful as they are, and it's not this one.

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