Hidden Realm by T.R. Slauf – Book Review

Hidden Realm by T.R. Slauf – Book Review

Hidden Realm by T.R. Slauf

Hidden Realm
Legends of Lightning Book One

Author – T.R. Slauf
Pages – 279
Released – 1st October 2020
Format – ebook
Review by – Tina
Rating – 3.5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
This post contains affiliate links.
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“The next Realm Walker will bring with them a storm. Lightning must fight the Crimson Shadow, or the lands will be cast into eternal darkness.”

When she was a child, Esther was plagued with vivid nightmares. Now they have returned to haunt her. Bloodthirsty monsters chase her through a forest of dead trees while a mysterious hooded figure stalks her. After waking with fresh wounds from her dreams, Esther searches for the truth about who she is and the Hidden Realm she is destined to save.

Join Esther on her journey of self-discovery as she travels into a world long forgotten. Unsure if she can trust her hooded guide, she is hunted by unknown enemies and smothered by expectations of grandeur. Deciphering friend from foe she travels the lands, trying to unite kingdoms torn by pride.

Review 2020 red

Hidden Realm (Book 1 of the Legends of Lightning series) is an ambitious dark fantasy. The story begins with Esther, a librarian in our world, who has been recently plagued with nightmares where she is chased through the woods by wolves. As wounds begin to appear on her body after these nightmares, she searches for a way to discover what is going on and how to stop it.

Most of the novel takes place in this other realm, where Esther must journey in order to save it from evil forces. As to why Esther is the one to do so was not explained entirely to my liking, though a premise is given.

The novel’s strengths are its dark, gritty, and unapologetically sordid and evocative imagery. It moves at a quick pace with interesting side characters and a villain with a tragic backstory, though she remains on the periphery for most of the story.

As the novel progresses, it’s revealed to be a fairy-tale adaptation. The take on the Brothers Grimm stories (and Beauty and the Beast) were quite interesting and rather innovative (especially given the deluge of fairy-tale reimaginings at present). In retrospect, the warriors being called The Huntsmen should have tipped me off earlier that this was a case, but it isn’t until halfway through the novel that the world expands to include adaptations of these classic tales. This did allow for the novel to develop its own story before being tied into the existing mythos, which was well-crafted.

Unfortunately, while the novel is quite enthralling, there are some issues that took away from the story. There is a decent attempt to give the characters depth, but Esther fell very flat to me. I loved that she wasn’t a stereotype or a trope, but we aren’t given insight into her deepest thoughts. She doesn’t ruminate on her past life in the slightest once in the new realm, which I found rather unrealistic, and while she is brave and rather stubborn, there is nothing much else to say about her. I cared more about a few characters than I did Esther. This could be because the novel commits the common “show don’t tell” narrative issue quite often, as well as drifting into a passive voice. Oisin, the other main character, was intriguing, but I’m still unsure why he kept Esther in the dark so often. It seemed like a way to keep the reader surprised rather than a personality flaw.

There are also quite a few minor questions/inconsistencies that are not resolved (but perhaps they will be in later novels).

Overall, this is an interesting read that will please those who enjoy a dark and “adult” re-telling of classic tales and those who enjoy fantasy with heavy themes.

Book Reviewer – Tina

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What did you think of Hidden Realm? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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9 Responses

  1. DJ Sakata says:

    The cover alone has me wanting to run fast and far – I’m far too wimpy for this one 😉

  2. Stormi says:

    Thanks for the honest review. Character depth is important for me.

  3. It sounds like something I would pick up but your review says otherwise.

  4. Nadene says:

    I like my characters to have depth. So I guess I will be avoiding this one.

  5. Robin Loves Reading says:

    Great review. I wonder if I would struggle with this one.

  6. I love fairy tale retellings! The cover is creepy but I like it. Excellent review.

  7. Ashleigh says:

    Lovely review, sounds like something I would enjoy

  8. Bianca says:

    I think I’ll give this one a skip

  9. Gayathri says:

    I love retellings especially fairy tale ones. Good one.