It’s day one of the blog tour for The Hiding Place and as it’s Halloween month, it’s the perfect time to for a slow-burner like this that has sinister undertones almost from the first few pages!
Nell Galilee and her husband Chris have arrived in a seaside village for a bit of a break. They’ve brought Chris’s rather sullen pre-teen daughter Maude with them, taking her out of school before the holiday break as she’s been in a bit of trouble – which never seems to become fully disclosed, but it clearly has something to do with her phone, the Internet, and social media. For this reason she is not permitted access to her own phone and only has limited access to either Chris or Nell’s phone, under strict supervision.
The other thing that immediately becomes clear is that this trip was actually planned at the last minute – mainly because of Maude’s transgressions. You see, Nell grew up in this village and although she and Chris had been invited to attend a family celebration, she had initially declined as she’d left the area many years ago and had never seen much reason to return (the reasons for this were also never made too clear). But now, here they are, and Chris had managed to rent Elder House in Bishop’s Yard at short notice. The house is really too large for just the three of them, but it doesn’t really matter – better to have more space than less, right?
But from the minute she steps into Elder House, Nell is uneasy. Something about the place just doesn’t feel right. Maude immediately makes herself at home in the attic, which Nell finds difficult to climb up to and she has the constant feeling that something or someone is in the house with them. Almost as soon as she arrives, she wants to leave. She knows she never should have returned to what was once her hometown. But they’re here now, and she has no choice but to stay and make the most of things. And she doesn’t want to look like the one who’s always making an issue out of everything.
She soon meets a friendly (extremely friendly) neighbour who reminds her that they’d been at school together and can’t wait to get re-acquainted. But Nell can’t understand why she struggles to remember this person. She decides that she needs to make an effort to be a bit more positive and try harder and attempts to make a determined effort to make this a more enjoyable holiday for them all, and to repair her relationship with Maude, which used to be a lot better than it is now.
But then Chris is called back home on a work emergency and once again Nell finds herself spiralling into a negative space. She doesn’t like Elder House and is convinced that there’s a malevolent presence there. She spends some time learning about the history of Bishop’s Yard and the house they’re staying in, and discovers that there are some dark secrets that lay hidden within its walls.
As the rift between Nell and Maude grows larger and the strange goings on at Elder House increase, the chilling sense of dread that the reader feels grows more intense, page by page. Where is this all heading and how is it going to end?
I enjoyed the elements of folklore and legend that were introduced into the story and the references to witchcraft were also interesting, although these could have been elaborated on further. But this isn’t just a spooky story created to scare, it goes a lot deeper than that. It’s about relationships: the bonds of family; the roots that pull us back to the places we come from, no matter how much we may try to escape them; the ties that bind us whether they’re the ties of blood or ties we’ve created by choice or circumstance … all of these different relationships are explored here in complex detail.
While I felt that some details were too vague (as mentioned before: why Nell had left her hometown and was so reluctant to return; what exactly the trouble was that Maude had gotten herself into that had earned everyone’s distrust and being removed from school before the term ended), the story is written in a way that keeps the reader interested and engaged, which pushes my rating from a 3.5 to a 4.
Thank you to Compulsive Readers for inviting me on the blog tour. Follow the tour to see what other bloggers have to say about The Hiding Place …