I don’t think I’ve read a true reverse harem book before, so “Hidden Magic” was a first for me. Set in a small town, Willow has always considered herself to be a freak, having to grow up too fast because of a mother who talks to herself and swears she’s a witch and their family is cursed. Willow is desperate to have some kind of normal life as she starts college at the local school, but Willow finds out very quickly that nothing will ever be “normal” for her. “Hidden Magic” is an incredibly fast read (maybe too fast?) and just as one question gets answered, a new and devastating mystery takes its place.
Outside of a few curse (ha) words, the romance is rather sweet in this first book so I’d say this was still appropriate for YA readers. I did really enjoy that the relationship Willow has with the guys (very, very hot guys too) felt wonderfully polyamorous in that outside of some of the guys not liking what one of the guys is, they don’t really fight over Willow. There’s no toxic masculinity with these young men trying to out macho each other for Willow’s attention. They each fulfill a role, offer her an emotional fulfillment that’s unique to each one, and seem to accept that, and support Willow regardless. It’s very sweet and refreshingly healthy in terms of romantic relationships!
Because of the quick nature of this book (it’s under 300 pages), we don’t get a lot of the magic until the second half of the story, and that includes the secret that dwells within the halls of Harper Academy. Also, because there are four guys that Willow falls for, and who fall for her in return, you don’t get a lot of the men in Willow’s life. We get brief introductions into each of the guys and their personalities, a few one-on-one interactions with Willow, but don’t necessarily get those prolonged “falling” moments that are more common in the slow burn romances. Everything is a bit instant, but given this is the first book, now that all players have been introduced, I’m confident that the next book will have more of those deeper romantic moments. I am a sucker for the slow burn romance personally, so I’d have loved to see more of Willow falling for the guys and them her, instead of it being more fated romances, and given how intensely these men feel for Willow, a little more of the why and seeing their interactions would have been greatly appreciated by yours truly! I did like 2 of the 4 guys way more, and just wanted more of them period, but I won’t give any names to avoid potential spoilers.
Pierce creates a unique setting in the Harper Academy and how it bridges the gap between the human and supernatural realms. The magic is colorful and the supernatural elements touch on everything from witches, werewolves, vampires, to even some creepy paranormal baddies! The college campus is small and that makes it quaint, and the picture that Pierce paints of the campus grounds is utterly dreamy. I will say I was a bit confused as to if the guys Willow meets are freshmen like she is, since they all seem to know what’s happening and how things work more akin to sophomores or juniors, but were in the same GE classes as Willow… And while this book is quick and fast—which is great!—it felt a little too fast to where I couldn’t really believe the romance as much as I wanted to at times, which is why I am giving it 4 stars. But again, I think the romance and the reverse harem aspects get more fully explored in later books. If you’re a fan of sweet romances, magic and supernatural elements (really, this book has something for everyone), and are craving a quick summer read, then check out “Hidden Magic”!
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