This is a novella in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series and has werewolf Elena Michaels as narrator and protagonist. There is a mystery plot here, and while that is very deftly handled and provides a thrilling finale, it’s really only a secondary thread – what Hidden mainly is about is Elena and Clay and their twins spending their Christmas holiday. And it’s quite wonderful.
It is basically fan service, though, and there is a good chance that if you have never read any of the series you will not be getting much out of Hidden. On the other hand, Kelley Armstrong is still great at characterisation, and so the twins are quite believable (though rather precocious) and the parent-children relationship are realistic on both the human and the wolf pack level. I have not read every single werewolf novel out there, but I doubt there is anyone who can pull off as plausible werewolves as Kelley Armstrong’s. Carrie Vaughn comes very close, but I don’t think she pulls off the integration of pack mentality into everyday life quite as convincingly, and this novella in particular is a splendid example of that particular aspect. It’s just a delight to observe Elena’s joy in her children as well as her continued worries about whether to tell them that their parents are werewolves, watch her relationship to Clay and their attempts to squeeze in the occasional sex when the kids are distracted, follow her her first, still often insecure steps as alpha-elect of the pack… There is quite a lot to delight in for such a slim volume, and part of the enjoyment comes without a doubt from having known the characters for so long and having accompanied them on many adventures, but it’s also due to Kelley Armstrong’s skill in making her creations appear so real and making us care for them.
As with all Subterranean Press releases I have seen so far, this is a beautifully designed and crafted hardcover book, although I have to say that this time the illustrations do not do much for me – they’re rather a bit too bright and cartoonish for my taste, which might work for a comic but not for book illustrations. But that’s just even more a matter of personal taste than what I usually write here, and your mileage may vary considerably.