Hidden Heir by Rose D. Patruno (book review).

‘Hidden Heir’ is the first book in a series that focuses on Inga Bergman. Inga is 19 and luckily enough to have been admitted to the mundane faculty of Cambridge University to study economics. She wants to be a chartered accountant. Inga is lucky because, although she comes from a magical family, she has no talent and at her age having gone through puberty unlikely to develop any. Sadly, she’s resented as a ‘fourteen per center’ by her fellow students. She hates the thought that she might only have got in because they have to take a percentage of students from magical families into the normal university.

Inga has been messaging a remote study buddy to get through the challenging syllabus. Imagine her and our surprise when she meets him, that he’s a hot young man in the flesh. Unaccountably, in her eyes, he takes to her. Biago is from an eminent magical family and they don’t approve of Inga. The sweet twosome are keen to learn maths together and probably not just maths but she quickly encounters hostility from many different directions. Inga is unsure of Biago and whether she should place her trust in him. Remote study buddies are a lot easier to deal with!

Her mother, who runs a tea room, is keen to have her at home and working in the business. Her father is in thrall to his wife and does what she says. In fact, her family are pretty horrible to her, so it’s her friends who prop her up and generally look after her well-being.

When she starts getting magical outbreaks, Inga finds her own family, including her telepath brother who works for the Parapol, are in complete denial about her having any magical ability. But a series of events unlocks her hidden talents and puts her immediate danger.

There are some interesting ideas in this book. Those magically gifted are less free than those who are not. They are deemed to be important and told to study a subject to enhance their gift. There does not seem to be free will in the matter, although Inga’s mother is running a tea shop despite being more gifted than Sabrina. One of Inga’s skills or curse is that she can smell someone’s magic and it’s not always pleasant. Her overbearing mother has a particularly devastating effect on her. Originally, Inga believes this is the only skill she has and is happy to ‘do the math’ to fulfil her employment ambitions. Magic opens up both good and potentially dangerous avenues and we see how people’s perceptions change when she develops.

This is a series opener for this so time will tell if it catches the imagination of readers. I enjoyed it with lots of ideas about how magic manifests, what the government would do with it and even other worlds travelled to by setting up bridges using skilful magic and maths!

I do have a gripe about across moments of copy edit blindness. My copy is not marked draft although this could easily be the case. I’m not the one to criticise I need a whole team of people to attempt to iron out my grammar and spelling but I do hate other people’s mangled sentences. That little niggle aside this has a chance of being a new series that will engage readers on novel flights of fancy.

Sue Davies

March 2023

(pub: Gaeli, 2023. 398 page paperback. Price: £15.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-2-95859-880-8)

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