The hidden city by Michelle (Sagara) West

How can I describe the feeling her writing evokes in me? If I say on par (almost) with Patrick Rothfuss, will that suffice?

The Hidden City (The House War #1)

by Michelle West

The incredible story that fans of The Sun Sword series have been waiting to read-the battle for control of House Terafin-from a writer of “talent and depth.”*

Orphaned and left to fend for herself in the slums of Averalaan, Jewel Markess- Jay to her friends-meets an unlikely savior in Rath, a man who prowls the ruins of the undercity. Nursing Jay back to health is an unusual act for a man who renounced his own family long ago, and the situation becomes stranger still when Jay begins to form a den of other rescued children in Rath’s home. But worse perils lurk beneath the slums: the demons that once nearly destroyed the Essalieyan Empire are stirring again, and soon Rath and Jay will find themselves targets of these unstoppable beings.


oh, this book was a bad influence on me! I started reading it the evening before an important exam. And I do mean important. I just needed to relax a bit. I went through the whole book that night and still couldn’t stop, so ended up reading the second book and some of the third as well. And then it was 6 ‘o clock in the morning and I had to get ready to leave for the exam and I hadn’t slept for a millisecond. I somehow passed the exam (barely) and still I came home and picked up right where I’d left off.

The hidden city is the first book in a series of interconnecting series set in and around the Empire of Essalieyan. The first few pages might seem uninteresting but once you get past that, it’ll sweep you in. The book starts off with Rath and how he meets Jewel, an Orphan child who leaves an impression on him though he prides himself on absolutely not getting attached to anyone, and finds children especially irritating.

Lies are a tricky thing. And when you tell them to yourself? You can almost believe them. Rath didn’t pride himself on honesty.

The world building is absolutely amazing. You might feel like the novel is a bit lengthy but believe me, when it’s over you’ll feel like you’re going through withdrawal symptoms. And sometimes her writing is lyrical and it pulls you in. Emotionally, it grabs you and doesn’t let go. Jewel is an unusually solemn child and one with secrets. She also believes in repaying her debts, hates charity and tries to be as adult as possible.

“Now,” she countered, “is all we have. All we can be certain we have.” -Jewel

“You haggle like a merchant—a merchant intent on giving away everything of value, rather than selling it to make a living.”  -Rath

Jewel carries around the ghost of her Oma (grandmother) in her memories. Always, it is her voice that gives advice, admonishes, guides her.

“You’ll learn, girl. These aren’t scars. They’re nothing. The scars you carry with you? The ones that never leave? They’re all in here.” She’d tapped her chest. “Regret,” she said softly, “for the things you didn’t do. Or the things you couldn’t do. They haunt you enough, and you see things like this,” and she put her hand to her neck, “and they mean nothing.” –Jewel’s grandmother

It’s not even all about Jewel, though she’s the main Heroine. I like Jewel but it’s the other characters that keep me hooked, Rath, the orphans Jewel gathers around her. This feeling of depth to them, this wanting to know about them, of them. The further you get into the series, the more enamoured you’ll get with it and them. And if you have to start somewhere, its best to start with this series and this book.

P.S. – If you should get further into the series then this is a warning, read the first 3 books, then The Sun Sword series, then continue with the next book in this series.*This is also the author’s recommendation.

5/5 stars undoubtedly




2 thoughts on “The hidden city by Michelle (Sagara) West

  1. Losing yourself in a book even while ‘real life’ (exams for example!) threatens to overwhelm is a familiar scenario for me too, like a kind of Matrix where it’s hard to tell what’s actually happening and what isn’t. So kudos to you for passing your exam in spite of your alternate existence!

    Liked by 1 person

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