The Hiding Place by Amanda Mason
|The Hiding Place by Amanda Mason|
|Reviewer: Stephen Leach|
|Summary: A chilling and compelling tense ghost story, but could do with a stronger edit.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: October 2021|
Needing an escape from their turbulent life, Nell Galilee takes her husband and stepdaughter to Whitby, where they rent a cliffside holiday cottage by the name of Elder House. She hopes that it will be the perfect place to sort things out. But there's something not quite right about Elder House. The atmosphere is unsettling and off – and before long Nell starts to suspect that she and her family aren't alone there…
Ideally timed for its October release, this is a chilling and delightfully atmospheric ghost story. Mason creates a setting that's haunting, evocative, and unsettling all at once, and drags the tension out masterfully. Not only that, but Mason also incorporates the area's local legends into the plot, making it feel grounded and causing me to reconsider what might be going on.
The personal stakes of the novel, too, are carefully constructed. Nell and Maude's relationship is wonderfully tense and as the plot develops Mason introduces a couple of other mother/daughter relationships that are similarly complex. It's here that the book really excels; Mason has a real knack for depicting believably complex tense relationships, and all of the characters seem to be hiding something. You really get the sense that each of these secrets is affecting the present day and how all of them are acting.
The only thing that prevents me from giving the novel a higher rating are the frequent changes of perspective, which made things somewhat difficult to follow. I often had to pause to refresh myself on who was who and I feel that a stronger edit would have made this less confusing. While the ending is satisfactory, it's not at all what I expected – I might have to read this one again sometime just to see what I might have missed.
Overall, if you're looking for a creepy horror story, you'll probably enjoy this. I love the setting of a creepy old house – it's one that, ironically, never gets old.
If you're into being scared, I'm just about to start rereading Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak – it's more crime-focused than this, but it's set in a similarly evocative dark and shadowy environment and has twists and turns aplenty. Go for it.
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