Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Del Rey
- ISBN: 9780593359242
- Published: May 2022
- Pages: 236
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 26/05/2022
- Language: English
As an adult it is easy to forget how exhilarating hide and seek was when you were a child. That crackling of electricity in your chest as you huddle in a hiding place waiting to get caught. The heightened senses as you hear the footsteps of the seeker drawing closer. The sense of relief as they walk by. Stressful, but great fun. Kiersten White’s Hide is all about these feelings, but the price of being caught is not to wait by the table for the next game, but a far more permanent end.
Mack is a person who knows all about hiding, in her troubled past she once in a very real game of hide and seek that saw the rest of her family butchered. In the present, she is a shell of a human being unable to trust, unable to live a real life. When she is offered a place in a hide and seek competition it seems like a bad idea, but she could really use the $50000 prize money. 14 contestants find themselves in an abandoned amusement park, each day two will be caught, but as the days progress it seems that the prize money may not be real and the seeker not quite human.
Horror is such a delicious genre as it written to entertain, but also disturb and make the reader uncomfortable. White has written in Hide a slow burn of a horror novel that left me feeling queasy in places. The pacing is perfect. Good horror does not have to reveal all immediately, Hide comes from the Jaws or Alien school of fear; show only a small element of the true terror until the closing sections.
The first few days of the competition seem straight forward, some contestants are caught, but for the remaining everything carries on as normal. These initial moments allow the reader to learn about the characters. White tells their story via flashbacks and internal monologues. Each has their own reason for being in the competition, but you start to realise that they may have more in common than they know.
There are elements of cultism in the book and conspiracies that span the decades. We are witnessing the current iteration of a ritual that has repeated every seven years. As the story progresses you slowly learn more about the conspiracy and the book takes on a whole different light.
Spotted throughout the book are moments of tension and horror, normally when the seeker finds one of the hidden, but for me the most horrific element is Mack’s story. It is rare to read such a broken character as a protagonist, it is hard to understand how she can even function, but she is perfect for this book and this competition. The events that formed her psyche are revealed in the book and left me with chills. The perfect feeling you should get from a horror novel.
Hide is the type of horror book I enjoy. It has phycological horror but is also happy to describe some physical and body horror. The hide and seek element of the tale is linear and full of thrills. You can read the book just for this, but there are also hidden layers as you learn more about the characters and the unwritten connections between them. It is a book that reminded me of the short sharp shocking horror I loved from the 80s, but with the more rounded characters I appreciate from modern terror.
Written on 26th May 2022 by Sam Tyler .