Review of The Hidden Institute by Brand Gamblin (2011) Free Audiobook

Bottom line: Great story, great characters, great narration, and it’s available as a free audiobook!

Rating: Strongly Recommended


Rising above your station can be deadly.

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.


I’ve had The Hidden Institute on my iPod for a while, but never got around to listening to it. I generally prefer to read things myself instead of listening to other people read them. Also, with Podiobooks, the quality of narration and production can be variable. However, this weekend, thanks to a spring allergy migraine (no reading paperbacks or looking at electronic screens) I finally gave it a shot.

I enjoyed almost everything about it – the story and setting are interesting, his characters are fun to get to know, there’s action but it’s not overly stressful, and the narration is very well done. My one sticking point is that I found the transitional music at the beginning, middle, and end of each episode loud and annoying – but that’s probably just me. I always find transitional music in audiobooks to be loud and annoying. It’s set in a futuristic/steampunk US, but the story is more character driven than anything else, and the sci fi/steampunk elements are very much a part of the setting rather than a main plot driver.

Gamblin has a couple of other books out (on Podiobooks as well as e-book and paperback format) and I’m going to have to try them as well. If they’re even half as good as this one, I know they’ll be worth the read – or listen.

Available: as a free audiobook through Podiobooks and iTunes, in any e-book format $4.99 at Smashwords, and as an e-book and paperback ($0.99 to $11) at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

More Info: Check out the author’s website here.

What did you think? Did you like the book?


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