Book Review: The Hiding Place
by C.J. Tudor
Release Date: February 5, 2019
345 Pages – Hardcover
Joe Thorne’s life is in utter shambles. He is secretive, bearing grudges, and he certainly never thought he would return to Arnhill—the dreary, old mining town where he grew up. His family is gone and returning will only stir up memories of his sister who died when she was eight years old. Nonetheless, Joe is lured back, taking a mediocre teaching job, all because of an obscure, anonymous e-mail: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.
“Arnhill is not a welcoming village. It is bitter and brooding and sour. It keeps to itself and views visitors with distrust. It is stoic and steadfast and weary all at the same time. It is the sort of village that glowers at you when you arrive and spits on the ground in disgust as you leave” (6).
Julia Morton was a well-liked teacher. No one imagined that she would bludgeon her son to death and use his blood to write “NOT MY SON” on the wall before killing herself. The town is in shock, but what does this have to do with the death of Joe’s sister decades ago? And who is the one who made the mysterious connection and summoned him back to Arnhill?
“Never go back. That’s what people always tell you. Things will have changed. They won’t be the way you remembered. Leave the past in the past. Of course, the last one is easier said than done. The past has a habit of repeating on you. Like bad curry” (5).
Joe moves into the cottage that Julia and Ben resided in, the same place they were found dead, with brain matter splattering the walls, hoping to find out more. The common factor between the two incidents is the old coal mines, known by locals as “the pit”, which were shut down almost thirty years ago after a horrific accident. But that does not stop local adventurous kids from trying to find a way back in… What they do not realize is, what they find will change their lives forever.
“If Arnhill was a living organism, then the mine was its beating, smoke-bellowing heart” (123).
The Hiding Place is haunting. It is deliciously dark, nostalgic, with a tinge of supernatural elements weaved throughout. Quite honestly, it is some of the best writing hitting the “best seller” section these days, especially in mysteries and thrillers. The story is mainly told in the present, but periodically flashes back to 1992, when Joe was a kid growing up in Arnhill, to give readers a more intimate idea of his childhood and the impact on the town when the mine closed.
It is categorized in the horror genre, but do not let that throw you off. Yes, there is blood, guts, and gore throughout, but it does not have that Chainsaw-Massacre feel. After a gripping prologue like no other, you will be fervently reading until the very end.