At first, I am not sure what to write about this book. I am conflicted because during the reading, I had at least two different feelings, none of it strong enough to become predominant: 1. It is an awesome construction of a book, that keeps you alert until the very end and leaves you haunted, still looking for answers. 2. It is such a déjà-vu in the style of Stephen King that it really doesn't matter too much what happened in the story, because it looks like a set-up for the sake of answering the usual King-canon.
Still, not sure which of these opinions are really relevant for the final evaluation of the book. Still, it might be a third one - at least - that I haven't identified yet which changes completely the literary perspective.
C.J.Tudor's debut novel, The Chalk Man was a revelation though, and I was very excited to start reading her newest book, The Hiding Place - titled in the UK as The Taking of Annie Thorne.
The opening is a description of a horrible crime site, a slow-down overview which outlines every single detail which sums up the horrible encounter. This punctilious focus on the smallest visual and audible information is the red line of the book, which creates impressive effects and builts up the overall suspense. You have to be careful to not miss any information if you hope to understand the plot.
An English teacher with a passion for gambling, Joe Thorne returns to his hometown, Arnhill, a dead former mining town. He is back because he was asked to, because strange events that took place during his teen years seem to come back. During those years his sister, Annie disappeared and when she returned she was changed for the good and shortly after she died in a car accident. 25 years after, he is keen to go deep into the labyrinth of secrets surrounding those times.
The book is populated with morally ambigous characters and bizarre children, some of them ending up as creepy adults. The characters are not lovable, not necessarily the kind of people you love to hate. Most of them are just haunted, like Arnhill, the town where they live whose geography and topography plays an important role in creating the suspense.
There is so much to be told by mining towns - former or still operating. People are harsh, used with going to work in a place that might be their grave. The minig places are often surrounded by a hallow of mysterious stories and urban legends with a high percentage of creepiness. Children growing up in such places are completely uninterested in learning as they assume that sooner or later they will follow the path of their parents. Families often made up of a semi-alcoholic father and a stay-at-home bored and sometimes depressed mom.
The story is told mostly at the first person and until the very end, it remains ambiguous about every detail. After all, memory is betraying and willingly, we might want to hide some details in order to obliterate the truth.
Personally, I am still undecided about the book and for a while, I leave it like this. Probably until I will read the third book by C.J.Tudor which I've heard is already done, The Other People. Because, definitely, she's a writer I would love to read more and more from.
Rating: 3.5 stars