Book Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor


Book Title and Author: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor
Publication Date and Publisher: February 5, 2019 by Crown Publishing
Genre: Thriller, Fiction, Paranormal
Pages: 288 pages
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Date Read: December 18, 2018 (e-arc)


3.25 Stars 


Goodreads Synopsis:

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

My Thoughts:

I was a huge fan of The Chalk Man; it almost made it on my list of favorite books of 2018, that’s how much I loved itso I couldn’t wait to read C.J. Tudor’s newest novel, The Hiding Place. While Tudor’s newest book is dark, creepy, horrifying at times, and has moments that will leave you feeling absolutely terrified, I have to admit that I loved The Chalk Man so much more since I had some issues with this book.

Once again, Tudor has her adult protagonist return to his hometown where something horrifying happened when he was a teenager, things he’s never gotten over. This time around Joe Thorne, an alcoholic, high school English teacher who’s up to his eyeballs in trouble with a huge gambling debt, returns home to the tiny mining village of Arnhill, a place he never thought he’d go back after the dark and terrifying things that happened after his 8 years old sister Annie went missing…only to return.

Joe’s homecoming is preceded by an anonymous email telling him about the suicide of an Arnhill teacher who first bludgeons her young son to death and writes the words “Not My Son” in his blood on the wall. He immediately knows the evil and darkness he thought had died in the past with his sister is still very much alive in the present and sets out with a plan to make all his problems go away, including ones he helped set in motion in the past that are now in a horrifying collision course with the present.

One problem…no one wants Joe home, least of all his old friends who are now his enemies and the only other ones who share the chilling secret of exactly what happened to Annie Thorne the day she disappeared in the ghostly abandoned mine shaft and why she returned days later a completely changed girl. They want him out of their village at whatever cost.

What I loved about The Chalk Man is that Tudor is a compelling storyteller; she invites you in with her words and just pulls you into the story and never lets go. She does the same thing in The Hiding Place, her storytelling is still spot on. Her characters are just brilliant even though they are completely unlikeable, and with this one, I felt like she added a heightened level of the supernatural, dread, and creepiness which I personally enjoy! This time around, you could feel the fear and terror inching its way through the first half of the book just building in intensity, so I knew that there was going to be something outright evil and horrifyingly otherworldly towards the end, and holy smokes, did she deliver!

But…and there is a but here, I had an issue with the book, which is why I couldn’t love it as much as I wanted to.

It was obvious while reading The Chalk Man that Tudor’s a huge fan of Stephen King’s work since that book read a bit like King’s earlier books but hey, if you’re going to write horror, then who better to look up to, right? This time though instead of a nod to the King, I felt like I was reading one of his books taken apart, mashed up, and then retold with different character names and in a different locale.

So while I enjoyed The Hiding Place and love Tudor’s writing, I do, I’m a huge fan and think Tudor is a superb storyteller, I want her to write her very own novel…no references to King’s books like with The Chalk Man, no obvious retellings of King’s novels like with this one, but one entirely her own. She’s extremely talented, and there’s no doubt in my mind that she can write a brilliant novel. I’ll absolutely look forward to reading her next novel because I know it will be excellent!

**Thank you, NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**

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26 thoughts on “Book Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

    1. Thanks! I’ve only read a handful of his books, most of them in the past few years, but I did my 300 page PhD dissertation on gothic suspense and horror from the 18th century to present and King got about 75 pages of my dissertation, so I spent a lot of time researching him and his books even the ones I haven’t read yet, so I think my time researching his writing style and stories more than anything caused it to click when reading her first book that she was an obvious fan, which is fan since a lot of authors have other authors they write like but with this one, if you’ve read a specific book by him or even seen the movie, you know this story or at least from about half on you do. I’ll be interested to see if you pick up on the King rehash! Thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s pretty creepy! You definitely should! I’ve been seeing the King comparison popping up in reviews more and more, so I’d be interested too! And I’ve only read a few of his books but it’s an obvious book she’s using so if you’ve read it or seen the movie, you know the story.

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      1. You definitely should! She really is a great author, so I know she can write a great book. I’m just surprised her editor didn’t say anything, especially when they’re are book reviews that say she used direct lines from his book too…now I’m not sure how accurate that is but it’s certainly odd if she did! He blurbed her first book, but I wonder if he’s read this one?!

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      2. Dang, the plot thickens. I went down the rabbit hole and saw some of the reviews you’re talking about. Definitely sounds like she’s inspired by King quite a bit— but everyone keeps praising her writing! It seems the most criticism stems from trying to recall King. I’m with you. I’ll probably still try this one, but I’m curious what it would be like if she wrote something that didn’t even playfully acknowledge King.

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      3. Lol! The reviews are indeed interesting to read! That’s the thing, she’s a brilliant writer! She just needs to tell her story not King’s stories. I understand sounding like an author, as in “oh, if you like so in so you’ll love this author” type them, but don’t recycle their actual material for your books. I think she can do it. I teach university creative writing and she’s talented. She’s got a tremendous talent for blending horror and suspense, so I think she just needs a push.

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    1. Thanks Shalini! It would have been a 5 star read without the obvious retelling of King’s book. I was very conflicted about this one, especially since I love the author so much. You’ll definitely enjoy it if you haven’t read King and won’t realize your reading his book just retold. Oh, that’s too bad! At least publishing day is soon!

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  1. Oh, this is too funny, Steph, that we posted this review on the same day! ♥️ I am not much of a King reader…I’m not even sure if I’ve read a book from start to finish. No real reason why. I own several. I haven’t read The Chalk Man- yet- I also own that, and I really enjoyed this book. That said, your review is thoughtful and well-done and I completely understand your opinions, especially if I was as familiar with King as you are. Happy Friday, my friend! 💗 xoxo

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    1. That is too funny! And this would have been a 5 star read for me if it hadn’t been such an obvious retelling of Pet Semetary because she’s such a brilliant writer. You know, I’ve only read a handful of King’s books and only in the last 2 years because he terrified me when I tried to read The Shining at 11 and ended up throwing it and crying. But I’m slowly trying to get my SK feet wet since it’s hard to teach gothic horror and thrillers without knowing his books, lol. I have students who want to talk about his books, and I am like, “uhhh, I’ve never read that one” 😳 However, when I did my doctoral dissertation on gothic literature, I devoted around 75 pages to King’s books and his impact on the genre, so I spent hours and hours researching his writing and books, which is what makes me familiar with his work rather than me being a huge reader of his books…does that made sense? Lol! I loved The Chalk Man and while it had nods to his work, it was something you could overlook. There are tons of authors who “sound” like others, so that was the case there. I definitely encourage you to read it. Thank you though! This was a difficult review to write because I thoroughly enjoyed the book but then again there was the retelling of someone else’s book issue! I appreciate your kind words! I’m really glad you enjoyed it! So conflicted with this one…she’s brilliant! Happy Friday too, my friend! 💕

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  2. Great review Stephanie. I decided to wait for the library edition of this one. I also loved Chalk Man so I knew my expectations would be sky high! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Holly! Yes, I loved CM so mine were too! And if you take out the equation of part of it being a Pet Semetary retelling, then this book is better in many ways than CM…but then you go down the rabbit hole of wait, this story has been told before by another author and you’re like 🤔😲 So, I enjoyed it but didn’t. I would have given it 5 stars if she just hadn’t gone the direction she did. I’ll look forward to your thoughts.❤


  3. I have seen this book get mediocre ratings, Stephanie. As a person who truly loved The Chalk Man,I think I will shy away from this one. Your review is wonderfully stated, and I so agree about this author’s writing so resembling Stephen King, and agree she is more than capable to rely on her own merits as an author.

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    1. I loved The Chalk Man too, so I was very conflicted with this one. On the one hand, I loved it but then she went there with the obvious retelling of Pet Semetary for the last half of the book so I couldn’t ignore that either. I’ve read that she used lines from the book as well, but I’m not sure how accurate that is since I’m not into King’s books enough to know dialogue and lines but from an academic standpoint, I have to say it really bothered me since I teach creative writing and the first and foremost thing that is taught is be original and never, ever copy any other person’s work. As a teacher yourself, I think you can probably understand my thoughts on that. I would think that authors would need to be just as accountable in maintaining originality. Did you read John Boyne’s A Ladder to the Sky? If you did, the situation reminds me a bit of Maurice Swift…She definitely is talented; I hope she writes her 3rd book based on her own merits.

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      1. It is sad that she seemed to mimic King’s work. I have read quite a few of his books and I think his earlier ones showed his awesome potential. Unfortunately, anything I have read by him lately has been so formulaic, all except his 11/22/63. Now he seems to be the James Patterson of the scare arena.
        Perhaps I will give it a go just to see where it goes off the rails somewhat.

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      2. I’ve only read a handful of his books-Pet Sematary, The Green Mile, ‘Salem’s Lot, the Mr. Mercedes’s series, and 11/22/63, which is my favorite because I’m a JFK nut. I tried to read Sleeping Beauty, but it was too weird for me and is still on my bookshelf. I do plan on reading Carrie, Misery, and The Shining since I think they will show why he’s famous for being the author he’s known for. I know more about his writing through research because my PhD dissertation was on gothic literature from the 18th century to present and around 75 pages was devoted to his contribution to the genre. Possibly, if I hadn’t spent hours researching his writing, her retelling wouldn’t have been as obvious. But, I’ve now read numerous reviews citing a comparison to King’s work, which makes me feel like at least I wasn’t the only one who felt that way but also makes me sadder that she did go seem to go that route. If you read it, I’ll be interested to see what you think.


    1. I was very conflicted about this book-I loved it and on one hand wanted to give it 5 stars but then it took the turn where it was retelling King’s book, and I didn’t feel okay with that. She’s so talented, so I would just love to see what she can write without using his books as her storyboard.


    1. It really is a big but and from an academic standpoint, I was extremely conflicted about it. I withdraw students from my classes (university policy, of course) for turning in essays or creative writing that is not their own work, so I really had to wonder how an author could use another’s material like that. It was troubling even though I really enjoyed the book! She’s just such a wonderful author. I’ve only read a handful of King’s books myself, but I’ve read the exact novel she’s retelling here, and it was shocking once you realized where she was going with the story. You probably won’t unless you’ve read this one book, it is very specific to one book. I’ll be interested to see what you think. This honestly could have been a 4-5 star read without the King equation. Thanks, Jonetta!

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