Friday, April 5, 2013

REVIEW: The Hidden Ones / Nancy Madore

TITLE: The Hidden Ones (Legacy of the Watchers Volume I)
AUTHOR: Nancy Madore
PUBLISHER: Self-published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (audiobook), Amazon UK (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (audiobook), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook e-book)

  Recommended for fans of urban fantasy and stories about angels and demons


The Hidden Ones is the first in a series.

Madore opens with a prologue that hints at a mystery, then sets up the conflict in the first chapter. The book basically consists of three stories: the main story in which Nadia is kidnapped, which is set up like a thriller, the flashbacks to Nadia’s grandmother’s experiences, which give background information, and the tale of Lilith, which sets up the book’s mythology.

Third person limited from the perspectives of Nadia, Helene (Nadia’s grandmother), and Lilith, depending on which section of the story we’re in.

Nadia  Adeire has a perfect life among Manhattan’s elite. The CEO of a thriving nonprofit, she seems to have it all. Then one day, she’s abruptly kidnapped by three masked men and whisked off to Saudi Arabia, where the men reveal that they are part of an ancient secret society bent on protecting the world from an ancient danger: the djinn. They believe Nadia to be the notorious demon Lilith, who is working with terrorist cells to plot a devastating attack on the world.

Nadia desperately tries to convince the men that she is in no way involved with Lilith. However, she recalls stories of the demon passed down from her deceased grandmother, Helene, and recounts them in an attempt to give the men what they want and help them find out what the djinn are planning before it’s too late.

The Hidden Ones is an imaginative urban fantasy that blends retellings of ancient tales with a modern day thriller. It’s essentially three stories packed into one novel: Nadia’s, Helene’s, and Lilith’s. Like Scheherazade of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Nadia serves as both a protagonist and a storyteller. She tells the story about Helene’s life in the mid twentieth century—how she went from a 16-year-old British schoolgirl to a Saudi man’s second wife. Along the way, Helene encountered Lilith through her father’s archeological pursuits, and Lilith’s is a story within Helene’s. An arrogant and powerful woman in ancient Mesopotamia, Lilith lived in a time when angels roamed the earth. Madore uses Lilith’s story to combine Judeo-Christian mythology with Near Eastern tales, explaining how the djinn of the Near East are related to the angels and demons of Hebrew legend.

Madore indicates which section we’re in at the beginning of each series of chapter (for instance, “Ancient Mesopotamia” indicates that we’ll be spending the next few chapters hearing about Lilith). Although Nadia’s is the main story, the other two are at least as interesting. Lilith’s story shows the reader who the djinn threatening the modern world are—how they lived, what they did, and how this all culminated in the war between angels and the Great Flood. Helene’s story serves as the bridge between Nadia’s and Lilith’s and tells us how the two are connected.

The Hidden Ones is very well plotted, and I’m afraid my attempt above at explaining it doesn’t do the novel justice. Madore clearly put a lot of attention and thought into building her world—of angels and djinn that made their way into modern legend. She cleverly weaves together various pre-existing mythology and uses her own to explain how it came to be. For instance, Gilgamesh of the ancient Mesopotamian epic was the son of an angel from Judeo-Christian mythology, Lilith was not only a Judeo-Christian demon, but also a Near Eastern djinn, etc.

All three female protagonists are admirably strong, albeit in different ways. Lilith, demonized in mythology, is portrayed as a warrior queen, a modern woman in ancient times vilified for refusing to bow to backward customs. She’s no saint – she’s arrogant, self-centered, and often cruel – but neither is she the being of pure evil she’s often portrayed as. Helene’s strength is of a quieter sort. A Western woman forced to bow to a misogynistic foreign culture, she chooses her battles carefully. Nadia is the epitome of the self-assured modern career woman, who finds herself in an unthinkable situation when she’s abruptly kidnapped. Although initially frightened, she refuses to take crap from anyone, even the masked men who knocked her out and tied her up.

The three kidnappers turn out not to be the frightening thugs Nadia initially took them to be. Once they realize Nadia’s trying to help them, they develop sympathy for her, although they can’t let her go for security reasons. They’re not crazed cultists or thugs, but rather guardians of the Earth protecting the people from unseen dangers. Gordon, my personal favorite among the three, and Clive lighten up the mood with their antics, while Nadia finds herself increasingly intrigued by the enigmatic Will.

Madore knows her subject matter well, and her assured, professional writing draws you into each scene. There’s so much going on in The Hidden Ones, and there’s never a dull moment. It’s unique, daring, well-written, captivating… I’m running out of adjectives here. A retelling of ancient myths and biblical tales, the story of a British girl trapped in a foreign world, modern day terrorists and secret societies…

Oh, just read the damn thing.

There are a few small errors but nothing too distracting. Overall, it’s very well-written.

This book contains some violence and a few sex scenes, but nothing graphic.

[from the author’s Amazon page]
Nancy Madore achieved enormous critical acclaim with her ENCHANTED series, which includes ENCHANTED, ENCHANTED AGAIN and ENCHANTED DREAMS (these are coming out in audio in December...just in time for Christmas!)
Now, following her life-long interest in history and mythology, Nancy Madore is launching a new series in the historical and science fiction genres, called LEGACY OF THE WATCHERS. Volume 1 of the LEGACY OF THE WATCHERS series, entitled THE HIDDEN ONES, is coming out November 2012 through Amazon's Kindle Select Program, followed by paperback and audio by the end of the year.
You can read more about Nancy Madore's LEGACY OF THE WATCHERS series by going to THE HIDDEN ONES' title page here on Amazon or visiting Nancy Madore's website at