Mallory is fresh out of rehab when she takes a job as a babysitter for five-year-old, Teddy. Teddy loves to draw but soon his pictures grow sinister, and Mallory fears something may be terribly wrong.
From Edgar Award-finalist Jason Rekulak comes a wildly inventive spin on the supernatural thriller, for fans of Stranger Things and Riley Sager, about a woman working as a nanny for a young boy with strange and disturbing secrets.
Mallory Quinn is fresh out of rehab when she takes a job as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.
Mallory immediately loves it. She has her own living space, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.
Then, Teddy’s artwork becomes increasingly sinister, and his stick figures quickly evolve into lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to wonder if these are glimpses of a long-unsolved murder, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force.
Knowing just how crazy it all sounds, Mallory nevertheless sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy before it’s too late.
This is a book I picked up after seeing so many stellar bookstagram reviews. I went in knowing little about the plot or story.
Hidden Pictures is a slow-burn thriller with paranormal elements that follows recovering addict Mallory as she babysits a boy that is seemingly haunted.
For most of the book, Hidden Pictures was a solid 4-star read. I thought the plot was interesting and became adequately creepy. The pictures that are included in the book are top-notch and really increase the spooky factor. (I would not recommend this book on audio for that reason.) Although Mallory’s interactions with other characters was pretty predictable, I did not mind.
Where this book fell apart for me was the ending and resolution (about the last 20%). It felt like a completely different author wrote it. After Mallory figures out what exactly is going on, things just go off the rails. There is completely unnecessary events thrown into that make the story suddenly ridiculous and far-fetched. Characters also act completely different from the rest of the book – like they suddenly had personality transplants. If the resolution of the book had been inline with the rest of novel, this would have been a great book. However, the ending was just too absurd and disparate.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that this is yet another mystery/thriller written by a man with a female protagonist that is seen as unreliable due to substance use disorder or a history of it. So while the plot was fairly unique, the themes it presented are reflective of the all too common man-writing-unreliable-female-character situation. If you do not mind this, do not let it dissuade you from reading. This is mostly a warning for those who cannot handle yet another Riley Sager-like book.
Overall, Hidden Pictures is a fun, spooky ride up until the last portion of the book. I would recommend it, but with the warning that the end may dampen your enjoyment.
May 10, 2022