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SFF and Queerness – We Need To Do Better

SFF and Queerness – We Need To Do Better


5th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: An Introduction

5th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

SPFBO #5: An Introduction


Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman

Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman
Book Name: Hidden Things
Author: Doyce Testerman
Publisher(s): Harper Voyager
Formatt: Paperback / eBook
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy / Crime
Release Date: August 21, 2012

I have a certain wariness of some subgenres in fantasy. There’s urban fantasy, whose settings I find really interesting but I tend to want all the protagonists to fall off a cliff. And to lose the fixation on European critters of lore. And to lose the private investigator angle. And to stop using first person narration. I don’t think that this is too much to ask, but when looking for books it becomes clear that I must be mistaken.

So when someone tells me that a book is using a modern day rural setting with supernatural whatsits running around, that isn’t using first person narration and there’s nary a whisper about what critters might be contained within and it’s in the context of a discovery roadtrip… Well, color me mildly interested.

Then I started to read it. Then I was definitely interested.

The story is about a girl named Calliope who gets a strange call from her ex and business partner Josh. Later she gets a call from the police telling her Josh has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Then Josh calls her again. Calli feels the need to figure out what’s going on. So it’s a road trip off to Iowa.

I really liked this book. Yes, Callie’s day job is as a private investigator, but it’s made pretty clear from the start that her usual fare involves trying to find runaways and cheating spouses. She isn’t trying to be a badass. Point in fact, she never becomes one, which was a nice change of pace. Her family plays a big mental role in it as well. I don’t think the book would have had its quietly sad ending without that visit to them. I appreciated that she was not isolated and that she did face up with some of the emotional demons that she carried through the course of the story.

Vickous manages the amazing feat of being both as creepy as anything that so strongly resembles a clown can be and also endearing as the figure of guide through the stranger parts of the story’s world. I also liked that he did not deliberately push or force Callie into action. It’s her story and he respects it. There are whispers and hints from his past that run as an undercurrent, but Callie is the one in the driver’s seat.

I had a good chuckle at the setting. There are large sections of the Northern Great Plains that are inhabited by next to nothing. What better place to hide creatures of legend? I liked the quietness of it and that it took the time to be quiet at all, considering that it could have just as easily turned into yet another action packed whatever with no time for introspection.

I liked this book with its long road trip, creepy clown man and how it uses the illusion of isolation around the characters to best illustrate that they are not alone in the world, even when they think that they’ve cut all ties. I found it an engrossing, quiet read and will happily read more in that story’s world.


One Comment

  1. I had a good chuckle at the setting. There are large sections of the Northern Great Plains that are inhabited by next to nothing. What better place to hide creatures of legend?

    Yep, indeed, that’s part of Doyce’s conceit in his worldbuilding.

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