The Hidden Family – Charles Stross | DNF

Shoulda stayed hid.Don’t call us. No, really: just don’t call us.

Stars: DNF Two and a half of five.

Review format: DNF rant plus links.
Summary: Miriam, a hip tech journalist from Boston, discovered her alternate world relatives in The Family Trade, and with them an elite identity she didn’t know was hers. Now, in order to avoid a slippery slope down to an unmarked grave, Miriam, known as Lady Helge to the Family, starts applying modern business practices and scientific knowledge to a trade dominated by mercantilists — with unexpected consequences for three different timelines, including the quasi-Victorian one exploited by the hidden family. (goodreads)
Provenance: Borrowed from the library.

I gave The Family Trade a three-star rating, and started into the sequel with guarded expectations.

Um, I like the cover a good deal.

Sadly for me, the negative expectations were quickly fulfilled. The flaws of the predecessor were loomingly prominent in this sequel.   I was hoping that the sequel would surpass the original, but it has been very much the same. There wasn’t one big nail in the coffin – more like a thousand paper cuts.

  • None, and I mean none, of the interesting unresolved topics are being taken up yet.
  • The plotting is mechanical and heavy-handed. Oooh, could the foster mother be any more ambiguous and possibly concealing something? Oh, look, she admits she’s concealing something.
  • Secondary characters who were ambiguously threatening in book one… peel off that stretchy mask with the flair of a Scooby Doo villain and gloat over their revealed black-hat status.
  • An entire new venue (third alternate Earth) pops up in the shooting gallery for double your extended-series enjoyment.

Pah. Removing the bookmark at page 117 of 309. I’m heading to the library to pick up Dragon Haven. Next up on my review list: Tanya huff’s The Truth of Valor.

Links and others’ reviews

Other related good stuff and reviews  (added by me, not generated)

  • Instead, dig up the Zelazny Amber series. I have not re-read them since the early nineties, but I still vouch confidently that they are all better than this.
  • Doug at Eclectic Ruckus says The Merchant Princes #1-4 are great fun and good light reading. Diverting, but there are better options. To fit my evil mood, here’s a kidnap-note summary supporting MY view, extracted as real phrases in order, from his review.  “also a kind of homage to Zelazny’s Amber books, but” “feckless” ” it turns out” “very awry”. Heh.
  • In Which our Hero – “warns” that Hidden Family ends as abruptly as book 1 did, and that it’s overall very much the same deal as book one.  I have to agree – if you loved Trade, you’ll like Hidden for the same reasons. Me, I was hoping that the sequel would surpass the original.


Want me to link to your review too? Let me know in a comment, and I can add the link here.

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  1. #1 by Carol on October 10, 2011 - 10:31 am

    Sounds like I wouldn’t have made it all the way to page 117. I’ve only read the first couple of the Amber Chronicles. I really need to get back to them.

  2. #2 by Sandy M. on October 12, 2011 - 11:21 pm

    Well, there’s a slick inevitability to the pace in the first four thirds of books in the series. It would not have been … painful to continue reading, but with much better books waiting, I did not want to waste time.

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