Bewildering Stories

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Hidden in Sight

by Julie Czerneda

Reviewed by Jerry Wright

Hidden in Sight is the third book in Julie E. Czerneda's Web Shifters series. I stumbled across the first book in this series, Beholder's Eye by accident, as I'd never heard of Julie Czerneda, but I found the cover intriguing. It was an excellent novel with a satisfying ending, and a story that could easily stand alone. Esen-alit-Quar is a fascinating character, and combined with Czerneda's talented writing, makes Hidden in Sight a good book.

Esen-alit-Quar is a shapeshifter who can adopt the shape of any known species. Although her kind is immortal, Esen herself is only several hundred years old. And when I say "only" it means she is still quite immature in many ways, both mentally, and physically. Despite having many memories assimilated from her now dead family of web-shifters she still often acts like a kid. Esen is sweet natured and charming, and readers care about what happens to her. Unfortunately, almost everyone in this universe are terrified of web-beings because a mindless version of the shifters called "The Death" had proved to be almost unconquerable.

The story begins with Esen and her human friend Paul (Ragem) Cameron living in a comfortable home and running a successful business. A rapid series of events destroys both home and business, and one who had been a friend discovers Esen's true nature and becomes a bitter enemy. So now they are running for their lives. The attacks are clearly being coordinated by someone who knows that Esen is a shapeshifter. But who? Esen and Paul need to balance hiding and running for their lives with trying to uncover their nemesis.

A major attraction of Beholder's Eye and its sequel, Changing Vision, is Czerneda's beautiful depictions of alien races. Hidden in Sight introduces a few more interesting new species, and this time, Esen becomes a shrimp. Kind of. We also meet a very interesting form of transport that reminded me of John Dechancie's Red Limit Freeway.

The story is well written, and Czerneda has shown she can deal with the pitfalls inherent in a series. If you enjoyed Beholder's Eye and Changing Vision you will probably enjoy Hidden in Sight as well. I did. Now I have to start the "Trade Pact Universe". Sigh.

Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Wright