Title: Hidden City | Author: Alan Baxter | Publisher: Gryphonwood Press | Pub. Date: 2018-2-20 | Pages: 264 | ISBN13: 9781940095783 | Genre: Urban Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration
When the city suffers, everyone suffers.
Steven Hines listened to the city and the city spoke. Cleveport told him she was sick. With his unnatural connection to her, that meant Hines was sick too. But when his friend, Detective Abby Jones, comes to him for help investigating a series of deaths with no discernible cause, Hines can’t say no. Then strange fungal growths begin to appear in the streets, affecting anyone who gets too close, turning them into violent lunatics.
As the mayhem escalates and officials start to seal Cleveport off from the rest of the world, Hines knows the trouble has only just begun.
Hidden City Review
Alan Baxter did a great job with Hidden City. This is a book that sufficiently creeped me out enough that I had initially had it listed as horror before I went to Goodreads and saw that it was listed as Urban Fantasy. Hidden City definitely is Urban Fantasy, but sweet baby Cthulhu, Baxter brings the skin-crawl. This was a book that managed to keep me uncomfortable for most of the read. My skin crawled, my scalp prickled, and I was always just on the verge of putting the book down and doing something else to give my overactive imagination time to die down.
The ‘unnatural connection’ between Hines and Cleveport was an interesting one. The author does a great job of illustrating the relationship between the two without every truly anthropomorphising Cleveport. Yes, it might have emotions and even a limited intelligence, but it’s not exactly yearning to turn human and screw someone’s brains out. (At least that I could tell.)
I loved that Hidden City doesn’t have a drip of happening romance in it. Abby Jones really is just Steven’s friend. There’s no unrequited lust there. Even though she is pretty much is a walking cliche of the “Hard-nose copy with the back story and the drinking problem”, she’s a nice contrast to Steven’s unassuming personality. This book is all about what’s happening on Cleveport’s streets, and the desperate fight to save not only the people on them but the city itself.
Hidden City kept me guessing. I truly didn’t expect it to end quite the way it did. I was over-the-moon about it ending the way it did. Some authors know how to walk that fine line between giving us the cliche happily ever after, and not quite burning the whole world down to embers. Baxter walked it perfectly. I can’t even complain about the final chapter, and that’s normally one of my biggest gripes!
Can I just mention the creepy factor again? Because ew. Ewww. Eww. Eww. Okay? Days after reading the book, I still have the imagery in my head. It just..ugh. There are some things we don’t need to visualize, and Baxter heaps them on you here.
Overall, Hidden City was a delightful read that creeped me out and delighted me in that special way that only some books can. If you like your books a-typical, your urban fantasy not filled with love-sick werewolves and/or vampires, and your fungi of the dangerous kind, given Hidden City a try. It won’t spore you wrong.