Title: The Hiding Place
Author: C. J. Tudor
Date of Publication: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Joe Thorne never thought he’d return to Arnhill, the little northern England town where he grew up, but he finds himself taking a job as a teacher at the local school. But he doesn’t take the job because he’s desperate for an income, or even because he’s driven to help the students. Something terrible happened in this town when he was a child, and he thinks that it might be happening again.
I was enthralled by The Hiding Place from cover to cover. This is one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a while. Giving it 5 stars was a no-brainer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes that feel of Gothic horror without it being too terrifying to be able to sleep afterwards.
While insanely atmospheric, C. J. Tudor keeps the plot moving forward. There are numerous extended flashbacks to Joe’s schoolboy days, slowly revealing what really happened twenty years ago. The book is incredibly creepy, but I wouldn’t quite classify this book as a horror, although towards the end things definitely turn… horrific.
There are quite a few twists in this story. A few of them I saw coming a mile away, but I didn’t mind. The tumultuous journey towards these twists was so damn appealing.
While I’m beginning to tire of the trope of the main character being incredibly flawed and unlikeable, this book is an exception. Joe Thorne is a liar. He’s a coward. He’s a tad narcissistic. He even has a limp and a gambling addiction which contribute to the myriad of problems he faces in the book. But he still has a spark of likeability, and I think it’s because of a combination of two things. He’s got a great sense of humour—that dry sarcasm that I greatly appreciate in a protagonist. He also feels terribly about how he handled things when he was child, and he’s hoping to make up for his mistakes. All these characteristics make for a dynamic and fascinating main character.
This book wouldn’t be so mind-blowing if it weren’t impeccably written. C. J. Tudor has a gift for language, and she had more than a handful of lines that gave me chills. That said, occasionally the book bordered on pretentious. Joe Thorne has a lot of observations about the world, and occasionally I would cringe at how ostentatious he was coming across. That said, I really didn’t notice this too much until towards the end, and by then I was so invested that it would have taken a sledgehammer of prose to get me to quit reading.
While this book has supernatural elements, it shares a lot in common with the typical psychological thriller that it would appeal to everyone, except for people who detest anything remotely fantastical with every ounce of their bones. I recommend this who wants to read a spooky story set in a small town that’s rife with a dark history, muddy present, and unclear future.
*Thank you to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC for review*
Find the book: