The Hidden by Melanie Golding

Posted On 2 November 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Even better than the first

The Hidden

So, Little Darlings was (I think) Melanie Golding’s debut and it absolutely caught my imagination with it’s compelling and strange blend of mystery and dark magical realism.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, the writing was excellent, the story was tense and creepy, and Golding excels at relationships and mental anguish.  As you might imagine when I saw that Golding’s next novel took inspiration from selkie mythology to say I was bouncing up and down with excitement is something of an understatement.  I had a serious case of ‘grabby hands’ for this book and I can start this review by saying not only did this exceed my expectations but it also wowed me even more than the first.  I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next.

The Hidden is a wonderful collection of threads that come together in quite possibly the most satisfying way I’ve read for a while.  We begin the story with a little girl lost, or abandoned, in a small seaside village.  We have a man found in his flat, suspected dead.  Meanwhile, we read of a woman who seems to abandon life by running out into the sea and yet another woman who races against time to an unknown destination.  Now, all these events take place fairly early on in the story but at this point I don’t want to give anything more of the plot away.  Instead, I will talk about the characters, the writing and the overall feel of the book.

Funnily enough we have a character making a return appearance in this book.  DS Joanna Harper is looking into the investigation involving the man left for dead in the bath of his flat.  I would point out for readers that you don’t need to read the first book in order to read this one – although I did like the character and was very happy to read more about her (and I would certainly encourage you to pick up Little Darlings).  The man in the bath is called Gregor who appears to be a serious young businessman who keeps himself to himself, however, DS Harper’s investigation soon begins to uncover things that indicate that Gregor did not live alone but had a wife and daughter, both now missing.  Finally, we have a young woman, estranged from her family, lonely and isolated and desperate for friendship.  (I can’t help wondering whether Joanna will make further appearances. in a series of thrillers that take inspiration from the supernatural – please let it be so).

I confess that having started this review with no wish to give away spoilers I find myself in the difficult position of not wanting to delve too deeply into the characters. What I will say instead is this book contains strong family themes as well as domestic violence (both physical and mental – not gratuitous at all) . It takes a look at possible mental illness and delusion.  We have a seriously nasty character among the pages here who is an intensely plausible sociopath of despicable proportions who has no compunction about taking the life of others. Okay, I will say no more about the characters.  My lips are sealed.

The writing.  I just loved it.  Golding has the ability to create both atmosphere and tension to such an extent that I found myself sitting bolt upright on the chair at certain points.  I was literally gripped as she delivered the kind of fear that compels you to shout at the characters as you fear for their safety.  On top of this she’s taken an ancient myth and created a contemporary thriller that is not only satisfying in terms of the mystery and police elements but at the same time delivers a real sense of authenticity in terms of the original stories.  She treads a fine line between ‘did that really happen or did I imagine it’ that I think will appeal to readers of both crime and fantasy.  I hesitate to say this (because I don’t love comparisons as a rule) but in some respects her style is reminiscent of a strange cross between DuMaurier and King because of her ability to conjure credible characters and heart pounding fear.  (To be clear, I’m not comparing this to any of the above mentioned authors’ works – just a certain flair here and there that really caught me by surprise in the most satisfying way and brought them to mind).

Put simply, this was an excellent read that grabbed my attention from the first few pages and from there kept me glued to the book into the early hours of the morning.  I’m not sure I can really do this justice, all I can hope is that I’ve given you a brief teaser of what’s contained within, enough to convince you to give it a shot.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 stars

12 Responses to “The Hidden by Melanie Golding”

  1. aquavenatus

    It looks like I’m reading this book ASAP!!!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Excellent – I hope you love it. I enjoyed it a lot
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    When you define this book as “a cross between DuMaurier and King” you make it sound extremely compelling, even when you have to keep all the cards close to your chest to avoid any spoilers 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha. We’ll take what I say with a pinch of salt. They are big boots to fill but there were elements of her character building that almost had a duMaurier feel and some of the creepy elements or the tense parts gave me a King vibe b

  3. Tammy

    Wow, I need this book! I’m sad I didn’t request it, but I just may need to buy a copy now, it sounds amazing:-)

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it. A great combination of thriller and fantasy.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I can’t decide if I want to give this 4.5 or 5 stars, it’s so good and your review is reminding me everything I loved about it. Gregor as a character was so well written, really threw me for a loop with what ended up happening!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, he was so well written. I couldn’t wait to read this and was so happy to be approved but it turned out even better than I’d hoped.
      Lynn 😀

  5. pagesandtea

    “DuMaurier and King” – I think I might need to check this out 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, yes, probably a strange (and maybe foolish) comparison. I wouldn’t say the writing overall or the style of the book puts me in mind of either of those authors per se BUT I just experienced certain elements that really did recall a particular scene or character – not because of any similarity but because of the ease with which the author seemed to draw them. I’m not really explaining myself. I’ll get my things….
      Lynn 😀

  6. Lexlingua

    I think most of us are intrigued by the “strange cross between DuMaurier and King” — wow.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yes, well, I hope I’ve intrigued you. On reflection maybe not the best comparison – relates more to the feel I had for certain characters and the ease that the author seemed to draw them or a particular scene.
      Lynn 😀

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