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Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and reviews. This is a review of a suspenseful paranormal thriller.
Shalini
hidden pictures
I loved it
4.5/5

Publication Date: May 2022

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Blurb

Mallory is delighted to have a new job looking after gorgeous four-year-old, Teddy.

She’s been sober for a year and a half and she’s sure her new nannying role in the affluent suburbs will help keep her on the straight and narrow.

That is until Teddy starts to draw disturbing pictures of his imaginary friend, Anya.

It is quite clear to Mallory and to Teddy’s parents, even in his crude childlike style, that the woman Teddy is drawing in his pictures is dead.

Teddy’s crayons are confiscated, and his paper locked away.

But the drawings somehow keep coming, telling a frightening story of a woman murdered… and they’re getting more sophisticated.

But if Teddy isn’t drawing the pictures any more, who is?

And what are they trying to tell Mallory about her new home?

My Review

What was it all about

Hidden pictures by Jason Rekulak was a suspenseful paranormal thriller that had shades of horror within its words. Completely fictional but the style of writing made it quite real. The author managed to convey his plotline quite effectively, giving me the right vibes of the genre. There was a balance in the different themes of horror and suspense in the book.

Mallory, a recovering drug addict now sober for eighteen months found herself with a stable job of looking after child Teddy, all thanks to her sponsor. She was grateful to the parents for having given her a chance, money along with a cottage in the far side of their yard. For the first time she was independent.

Teddy was a sweet boy who managed to capture her heart. They spent their days drawing and playing make-believe games, until the child started drawing beyond his abilities. From stick figures to well-drawn macabre pictures.

Learning the history of her cottage and the disappearance of Annie years ago, Mallory was sure this was a specter who needed help. But time was running short for her, when suddenly she herself was gripped under the influence of the being from beyond the grave. 

But wait-a-minute, were there really ghosts? Or was this just her paranoia and hallucination? Her brain had been ravaged by the effects of drugs for years.

She just had to get to the truth for her own sanity.

The Characters

The opening chapter was quite a shocker as I didn’t expect the scenes from Mallory’s life that had quite a science-fiction feel to it and filled me with curiosity. Then the book progressed to the main story.

A cross country runner, I liked how the author managed to etch Mallory’s character to be someone who had seen the dark shades of life and had won her victory over them quite effectively. On the other hand, Teddy’s parents were detailed to be slightly control-freaks who liked things to be in order. But they had the large-heartedness to give a chance to an ex-addict. I liked that they could see beyond their prejudices.

Teddy was quite an innocent child, but someone beyond their visibilities was guiding his right hand, helping him draw some gruesome pictures of someone being hurt. Suddenly the stick pictures became a well-drawn, shaded images that gave the impression of an experienced artist, leaving the babysitter Mallory flabbergasted.

Anya was quite a loyal imaginary friend of Teddy, who gave stability to his life. I loved the vibe of paranormal slowly building as I turned the pages. But it also helped me ground myself to the reality that Mallory might just be imagining and reading more to the situation initially.

With the help of the neighbor, who was supposed to be someone who was high on drugs/weed, Mallory got to understand that there was something beyond her that was at play. I liked how the characters reacted to the situations they found themselves in. Quite realistic.

The Intricacies

There was mixed byplay of all the characters in the story. They went well with the plotline that brought out the suspense in the story with the past of Annie admixed with the imaginary friend Anya. Suddenly the present and the past could no longer be separated when Mallory saw changes in herself.

Fast paced, the writing style effectively led me down a path where suspense of the paranormal rose from the actions of the characters. I liked the side-plots of a love interest along with idiosyncracies of neighbors in that side of town. It added to the flavor of the story. 

There was good enmeshing of the subplots within the characterization. The author managed to build up the intense scenes with intermittent relaxed moments, allowing me to imbibe the atmosphere of the story.

How it made me feel - The Good

Quite an innovative plotline that captured my attention with its vivid brush strokes (pun intended, you’d know if you read this book). The concept of believe it or not was well embedded into the story. Many times, I didn’t know what I was supposed to confer. 

Since I believed in ghosts, my inclination was more toward the paranormal. I liked that the author managed to capture my imagination with the lines of the prose. I found myself avoiding my chores just to read this book. In fact, I took an off yesterday so that I could spend my time lazing and thinking about what could be the end. 

While reading a book, most often, I find myself knowing what the ending could be. Sometimes the story funneled to such an ending. But in this, I veered between both the presence and absence of a specter and imagining how I would write the last chapter.

But what really happened at the end, with the explosive revelations, I was completely knocked out. Thud… I crashed on my bed. No ways. That didn’t happen. How could the author have thought of such an ending? But he did. And I was left absolutely thrilled.

hidden pictures insta

What I didn't like - The Bad

A couple of niggles. I would have liked a smooth progress to the secrets that were revealed at the end. Here Mallory came to know many things suddenly. 

But once the reveal was done, the story progressed in quite a predictable way.

The first chapter which actually caused my suspense antennae to zing was not used much in the storyline. 

The Summary

A good book of suspense where the paranormal and thrill were weaved in the tapestry of a solid thriller. There were no added frills that distracted me from the story. The words sang a clear song. 

Do I recommend this book?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I absolutely do. It was different from the other thrillers I have read so far. I completely went with the flow of the book that kept pulling me into its pages. 

I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.

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