Fresh out of rehab, Mallory Quinn takes a job in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy.
Mallory immediately loves this new job. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body.
As the days pass, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister, and his stick figures steadily evolve into more detailed, complex, and lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to suspect these are glimpses of an unsolved murder from long ago, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force lingering in the forest behind the Maxwell’s house.
With help from a handsome landscaper and an eccentric neighbor, Mallory sets out to decipher the images and save Teddy—while coming to terms with a tragedy in her own past—before it’s too late.
Hidden Pictures is great fun! It’s an original, fast-paced horror/ thriller with supernatural elements to it, which I’m not usually a fan of but which works really well in this novel.
We’re following Mallory, a recovering drug addict trying to turn her life around. Her sponsor helps her get a job as a nanny for a wealthy family with a very sweet young boy, Teddy. All is going swimmingly until Teddy’s drawings start to take on an eerie style…
The characters in this novel are likeable and seeing everything through Mallory’s eyes means it’s straight forward to follow and enjoy. The novel is fairly calm and light, slowly building up the tension and eeriness until the last 20% or so when things suddenly get much wackier! There are some bits that don’t quite add up in terms of plot but it’s easy to suspend your disbelief – this is a horror novel, after all – because it’s such a fun read. I really loved the twist we got towards the end, and the epilogue. It didn’t go where I thought it would which I’m glad about – I couldn’t have seen it coming!
My rating: 4/5
Many thanks to the publisher, Sphere, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.