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
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: December 18, 2018 (e-arc)
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.
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 it, so 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.**