Rating: 3 Stars
Ever since I read The Chalk Man last year, I had been waiting for C. J. Tudor’s next. I love thrillers that combine suspense with just the right kind of creepiness. The Chalk Man reminded me of Stephen King, but with less horror and more suspense. The Hiding Place (or The Taking of Annie Thorne) didn’t quite manage to live up to my expectations.
I realize that it is quite unfair to compare two books, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Even with that in mind, The Hiding Place turned out to be quite average as far as thrillers go.
There is no doubt that C. J. Tudor is a master storyteller. Her words have the power to transport you into the setting of the story, and actually feel the characters. The problem occurs when the characters are not strong enough to arouse any feelings inside the reader. The worst thing for a character to do is to inspire indifference. This book, while written well, fails to deliver in the give-a-damn department.
Joe Thorne never thought he’d be back in Arnhill. He thought he had left it all far behind; the toxic friendships, the incident at the abandoned mine, the suicide, and most of all, the disappearance of his sister. But he finds himself not only going back, but also lying his way into a teaching position at his former school. He has his own reasons for returning, and trying to stay low-key, one of which is a strange e-mail that he has received.
As soon as he sets foot in his hometown, Joe encounters hostility from old friends as well as new acquaintances. He is not surprised, nor is he deterred from his objective. For he knows what actually happened at the old mine the night that his beloved sister went missing. He was devastated by her disappearance, and thought that there couldn’t be anything worse than that. But he was wrong, because there was something worse that could happen, and it did. His sister came back.
The plot and characters are somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s It, which remains to date, the scariest book that I have ever read. But other than the most superficial similarity, The Hiding Place fails to scare and creep out. Even the most horrific scenes felt one-dimensional and just not scary enough. It was like watching a movie where the actors fail to deliver the required emotions and expressions.
It is an average thriller that while interesting will most probably fail to impress the hardcore horror/ thriller fans. However, C. J. Tudor is one writer who I will never hesitate to read, so I’m looking forward to her future endeavors. Hopefully, I will find my next favourite book then.