Podcast Review #76: The Hidden Institute


originally published April 11, 2011

Title: The Hidden Institute
Author: Brand Gamblin
Genre: Science Fiction/Alternate futuristic fantasy
Released: 6 March 2011 – 28 March 2011
Located: Author’s Site
Formats Available: podcast, ebook, dead tree
Rating: PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language

So after weeks of reviewing books that I don’t remember where or when I heard about them, I find Brand Gamblin’s The Hidden Institute has been completed and though I had all ready had it on my radar, I admit to bumping it way up due to the fact that Richard Green enthusiastically recommended it. Having enjoyed Tumbler by the same author, it didn’t take much persuading on Richard’s part.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Cliffy is a child born on the streets of a Neo-Victorian world. Witnesses to a murder, he blackmails a nobleman, receiving a unique bribe. In exchange for his silence, the nobleman introduces him to the Malcolm Rutherford Holden Institute of Regentrification. There, Cliffy learns to walk, talk, and act like a nobleman, so that he may infiltrate high society. But that type of fraud is punishable by death, and when Cliffy uncovers a plot to assassinate a head of state, he’s hunted by more than just the aristocracy.

Royal intrigue, daring escapes, sub-dermal machines, and bear polo. A grand adventure in a not-so-distant world. (Stolen from Amazon.com)

Production: Although this is the second book I’ve heard by Mr. Gamblin, it is the first that was a self read. This changes the production somewhat in my mind. The production is very well done. The episodes are very nicely timed and no obvious errors were made. The music Mr. Gamblin chose is entirely appropriate for this story. However, if there is one production area I would note being bothersome, that would be the length of the musical interlude between scenes. Though I enjoyed it, it seemed very long. Of course this could have been due to the fact that I mainlined all 15 episodes in a two day period.

Grade: A

Cast: Mr. Gamblin does an excellent job in not over-selling his characters. Each character is unique and breaths with a life of his/her own without an over effusive reading. Very nicely done.

Grade: A

Story: The Hidden Institute is a unique story that is really unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. In interviews, I’ve heard Mr. Gamblin refer to it as Harry Potter meets Henry Higgins (you know, My Fair Lady? The professor chap in charge of ladyfying Ms. Doolittle?). This is a fair elevator pitch, though it is a bit darker than either of the tones recalled by those stories (yes, I know Harry gets dark, but the series doesn’t feel that way). This story is still completely young adult (13+) friendly.

Grade: A

Verdict: I enjoyed The Hidden Institute very much and I really believe you will too. Mr. Gamblin has done a remarkable job of characterization and world building. I know I’ve mentioned it somewhere before, but it is worth mentioning here again. I’m not a big fan of world building when it is obvious that is the goal. World building completed within the guise of the story, however, when done well is quite enjoyable. The Hidden Institute is proof of that.

As a final thought, the paperback is available on Mr. Gamblin’s website. That’s where I ordered it from, and you should too.

Disclosure: I do follow Brand on Twitter and I do tweet with him on occasion. I was not offered a Bear Polo season pass or anything else in exchange for this review however. Darn.

~ by odin1eye on 13 January, 2020.

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