Debut author Skidmore offers a romantic fantasy full of mystery and mistaken identity, set in the imaginary kingdom of Venesia. Everyone in Venesia wears a mask that indicates his or her station in life. Evie’s mask sets her apart as an artisan; like her father, she is a mask maker by trade. When Evie’s father is killed in a fire at their studio, the criminal who sets the fire also brands Evie with a mark that identifies her as a part of his criminal band, thus putting her life in danger. She then goes into hiding and turns to her friend Aiden for help bringing the arsonist to justice. As Aiden’s identity is slowly revealed, Evie’s relationship with him moves from friendship to love. But will their true identities prevent them from finding lifelong happiness together? Crisp dialogue and quick pacing propel the story, a riff on Cinderella, to an action-filled ending. Filled with gossiping servants, palace intrigue, and masquerading royal personages, this novel will appeal to romance and fantasy fans. Ages 12 and up.
In Venesia, masks are integral to society; they determine a person’s rank and identity. Evie, a talented young mask maker, knows this more than anyone. But when an infamous bandit, dubbed the Chameleon, steals her masks and destroys her home, Evie is forced to hide in the palace as a server in the novel “What is Hidden.”
But she’s not going to hide from the Chameleon forever — she’s no damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued from unfortunate circumstances. Her plan is to keep a wary eye out for his inevitable return so she can expose him and reclaim her life. Evie soon realizes that it’s not just the Chameleon who hides his true identity behind a mask, though — even those she thinks she knows aren’t who they seem.
Lauren Skidmore’s “What Is Hidden” is an enchanting story of friendship, romance and loyalty, complete with royal balls and a prince in disguise. While there are several nods to the classic fairy tale “Cinderella” throughout, “What is Hidden” is a strong story all on its own. Rather than spending the whole book checking off the parallels between this story and the original “Cinderella,” readers can enjoy the story in its own right, recognizing a few “Cinderella” tidbits as they go.