Title: Hidden Pictures
Author: Jason Rekulak
Release date: May 10th, 2022
When this novel came out it was EVERYWHERE on my social media feeds. It was plastered on IG daily and I continuously saw folks raving about it on Twitter. The premise had me intrigued, a young woman, just out of rehab begins working as a babysitter for a rich family and begins to notice a strangeness to the young boy’s artwork.
I often find I get very curious about the ‘different’ takes on supernatural thrillers. ‘Smithy’ for instance had me so excited to read – a novel about a group teaching sign language to a primate, only to discover the primate is communicating with a ghost. And while that book ultimately didn’t deliver for me, that premise has remained in my head as something different, something unique.
So, it was, that I came to find ‘Hidden Pictures’ at the top of my TBR list and I giddily dove in.
What I liked: As mentioned, the story follows Mallory, struggling with personal guilt and grief over her sister’s death and her subsequent downward spiral into addiction. She’s now eighteen months clean and her sponsor arranges for her to babysit (after first nailing the in-person interview) for Caroline and Ted for the summer. Their young son, Teddy, is about to start at a new school so it’ll be Mallory’s job to try and coax Teddy out of their shell and hopefully make some friends over the summer.
It’s soon enough that we learn that Teddy has an imaginary friend, Anya, and that Anya appears in his drawings. Rekulak takes his time, slowly introducing the photos, Anya’s presence and how fiercely against the suggestion his drawings mean anything that Caroline is.
Mallory, meanwhile, begins running again – her passion before the accident with her sister – and meets a young man her age, Adrian, who she hits it off with. Adrian becomes her rock, the person she can lean on, as things begin to unfold and several truths are revealed.
Rekulak keeps his cards close to his chest throughout, until we get to an explosive final scene where everything is revealed and an epilogue that fills in the gaps and lets us know what occurred post ‘The End.’
The novel rampages along. I was hooked from the beginning and was wholly invested in Mallory and her quest to find the truth.
What I didn’t like: I did find that even though I was hooked and loved how this one flowed, I felt that it was overly long. That there was a significant amount of repetition in chapters where I wasn’t sure why we had two or three chapters in a row that essentially told the reader the exact same thing.
And as for the ‘reveal,’ there were a few sentences that I think were supposed to be subtle but stuck out like a billboard, which created an ending that I didn’t find as shocking as I think I was supposed to.
Why you should buy this: From page one until the very end, I was invested. I wanted to know what happened and even when I had an inkling (which became a strong theory) I had to know the truth and I couldn’t wait to get back to the book every day. That, to me at least, is a strong suggestion that this was a really solid book and I think if you’re looking for a supernatural thriller that will have you racing through it, look no further.