Speculating on SpecFic

Fantastic Literature: From epic fantasy to fairytales to myth-making

Hyddenworld  - William Horwood This book has sat on my shelves for almost a year, and now with the sequel in hand, I finally got it together and started reading. Hyddenworld swept me away before I had even realised it – the legend of Imbolc and the four gemstones of the seasons, the prophesy that seems to revolve around Jack and Katherine – all hooked me in.I loved the first part of the book, something about the way the wyrd – the fate – of all the characters intertwining and culminating in the meeting of Jack and Katherine was amazing. All the major players were introduced and the scene was set for something amazing. The second part of the book skipped twelve years: Jack and Katherine are on the cusp of adulthood, inexorably bound by the car accident that brought them together. Jack moves in with Katherine, her mother and his foster parents, but his foster-father is missing. And the story stagnates. Endless days of Jack and Katherine slowly getting to know one another again, the slow and disheartening demise of Katherine’s mother from injuries caused in the car accident, strange happenings that the characters ignore. I was well and truly bored by the end of this section, and contemplating letting the book go in favour of more exciting reads. But then Katherine and Jack slipped it into the world of the Hydden.I loved the subsequent parts of the book in the world of the Hydden – the little people – and found Brum to be well constructed, vividly realised, and much more believable than the human world that Horwood paints. The rich history and mingling of cultures, the exploration of social and economic issues, and the cast of wonderful characters soon reeled me in again. I loved Bedwyn Stort in particular, because of his eccentricities and subsequent adventures, but I enjoyed Master Brief and Pike just as much. Jack was able to grow into his inheritance in their company, and I liked how they believed him to be the half-giant mentioned in the prophesy, but they never pressured him into doing anything, and most of all, believed in him when he needed it most. Katherine also surprised me once she made it into the Hyddenworld – she’s capable and rescued herself many times, and I admired her growth and tenacity throughout.The most striking aspect of the book is the style in which it’s delivered: it feels like William Horwood is sitting in a rocking chair, telling us, the captive audience sitting around him, a story of old forgotten times. It’s meandering, long, and sometimes sluggish, but always full of magick and mystery. Things are often repeated, histories are recounted at length and Horwood frequently gets sidetracked by the quirks of fate and destiny, only to be reluctantly pulled back into the narrative he is telling. Not a style that everyone enjoys, but well executed all the same.Hyddenworld is a story from ages long gone, told in a quirky style and featuring some of the strangest, but most endearing, characters I have ever read. It’s a lovely book that will entertain fans of the genre and leave them wanting more. I am excited to get back to the world of the Hydden soon, in Awakening.You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.