The Hidden by Sarah Pinborough

(No Series)

Rachel Wright wakes up in the hospital one morning with no memory of who she is. It takes a while, but once she gets over the shock she decides amnesia isn’t all bad. Rachel grasps this opportunity for a fresh start. What does she care if everyone she used to know thinks she’d changed a bit too much? Life is good for the “new” Rachel. . . . But now her life is starting to fray at the edges. She’s been having hideous nightmares and seeing strange things in mirrors. She’s becoming more and more certain that something bad is coming. Something wants to break into this world, to play games of blood and death with the living. And it’s coming for Rachel.

The Hidden is from newcomer Sarah Pinborough, a British English teacher. Unluckily for me, I abhor amnesia plots, most likely a leftover from too many lifetime movies as a child. I was happy to see the book didn't focus on this mental disorder too much, veering off instead to other characters lives and their purpose in this novel. I have to admit it took me awhile to stay focused.

The beginning was confusing, not that interesting, and misled. The middle spiced things up more, with intriguing things events, a few grueling murders, and issues made more clear. I especially loved the diary of Elizabeth; a novel written from her point of view would have been enjoyable indeed. The ending was a cool wrap up, furthering the tension the middle contained, ending everything on a depressing and unpredictable note. I enjoyed the significance of mirrors and the occult; mirror seem to frighten many and Sarah did a good thing putting these into her story. The other world in her book was intriguing, different, and justifiably creepy.

The plot itself can't be faulted much, it was original enough to work, giving me some shivers along the way.

I didn't fall in love with Rachel but she was written well. Mike, her boyfriend, was enjoyable on multiple levels. The detective Murray was the most intriguing of the bunch, and the aunt was a good addition. Pinborough did her characterization well, using them to the best effect, switching POV when needed.

The pace was a bit uneven. The beginning held plenty of action but nothing that grabbed my interest. Elizabeths diary was interesting but went through several chapters, something VERY unusual for a novel to do. Everything else worked on a good pace, keeping things exciting enough to the end.

The author writes well and her dialogue is convincing. However, there is one thing I need to point out. There were numerous, and I do mean numerous, errors throughout the book. Perhaps Britain has different rules in grammar than we do, but if this is the reason for there being grammar errors on nearly every page, I would think Leisure would have edited it for an American audience since this is who it's being marketed to. Besides that, there were at least a dozen spelling errors. Strange, especially since the writer is a teacher of English.

The Hidden carries many rewards - it's different, clever, and later on in the novel hard to put down. For the negatives, the errors interrupt the reading process, the beginning suffers from being sluggish, and it's hard to tell who the main character really should be. Overall though, it's a more than worthy effort from a first-time novelist. It packs a pretty hard punch and horror fans should delight in the story.