Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology, #1
Hero: Leighton Atwood
Date of Publication: July 20, 2014
Started On: August 3, 2014
Finished On: October 1, 2014
Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas serves as a prequel to her most recent historical romance My Beautiful Enemy. Hidden Blade comes in the length of a full novel; most of the time we come across novella length books for these types of stories. And true to Sherry Thomas’ ingenious style, she delivers a heart wrenching read that works as a powerful backstory to the characters in My Beautiful Enemy.
I’m already halfway through reading My Beautiful Enemy and I’d highly recommend that Hidden Blade be read before venturing into My Beautiful Enemy, though I suppose you can still read the actual story without having read Hidden Blade. But the way I see it, without reading about the pasts of the characters that makes up My Beautiful Enemy, you wouldn’t be as emotionally involved with the unfolding story as you’d be otherwise.
Hidden Blade takes place in both China and England. China where young Ying-ying, a girl born out of wedlock and to a foreign devil at that, finds her life changing irrevocably when her mother dies leaving her in the care of her Amah (nanny) and later on being forced to go under the care of Da-ren, a prince of the blood and an uncle to the current emperor to whom her mother had been concubine to.
Amah teaches her the tactics to the deadly beauty that is martial arts, more so because she is more vulnerable without any real family to look after her in any sense. Hiding her skill, becoming the docile and meek creature that she transforms herself into at Da-ren’s household might’ve been the only way to survive, but her heart yearns for acceptance, love and understanding all the same.
Miles and miles away, in England, Leighton Atwood’s life fares no better. Of the two stories which takes place simultaneously, Leighton’s story proved to be the one that hurt me deep inside. The story of his struggle to keep sane until the day he’d once again be free, that was an enlightening and thought provoking journey in itself.
Hidden Blade in no means gives you the type of closure you need after having read a story. Yet it tantalizes your senses and awakens them to the future of Leighton and Ying-ying that is yet to come, and long after you’re done you still wonder to yourself, what if Leighton and Ying-ying’s paths had crossed before it had been too late. What’d have become of their future then. But I guess those are questions for which we’d have to make up our own answers.
Embedded with insight into the machinations of Chinese politics during reign of the Tung-chih Emperor together with beautifully crafted fight scenes that leaves your mind reeling, Hidden Blade is a novel that unsheathes it’s cover and thrusts you towards the melancholy inducing pasts of both Ying-ying and Leighton, leaving you wanting more after the fact. Recommended.
Final Verdict: A must read before reading My Beautiful Enemy.