I have read many different thriller books over my time and some have been brilliant and others, not so much. Modern thrillers tend to follow some rules and by doing this, it makes them seem almost boring. Many of them are books I feel like I can predict in the first few chapters and therefore, there is no denying I will be giving it a slightly more negative review. However, I have found a niche of modern thrillers in which have many twists and turns, more atmosphere and a slight mixture of horror - this does not mean they are definitely good but it might mean that they have something more to offer than the simple modern thriller.
This book entitled Hidden Pictures has a mixture of things going on and not all of them are great, but most of them have been attempted well. Unfortunately though, on the whole this proves to be yet another forgettable thriller. Here is what the story is about without spoilers: Mallory is a recovering opioid addict who plans to work as a nanny to a child called Teddy. Teddy's parents are the neurotic Catherine and Ted who not only dote on their son but are completely and utterly deluded about him too. As Mallory gets to know the adorable five-year-old, she also notices that he likes to draw pictures of someone called Anya.
After this, there are many other horrific drawings that Teddy does with his parents refusing involvement, insisting that this is just what little boys do. Even though they don't try to help their son in any way, you can definitely see their concern as the reader. As the drawings become increasingly more concerning, they also become increasingly more detailed. Theories from possession to spirits to murder to kidnapping and everything in between are tossed here and there but nothing quite fills all the gaps or makes sure that everything is completely covered. That is until we reach the very end where things begin to fall together.
Though this has an interesting premise, I do think that the book itself drags out the story for a bit too long after the reader has already figured out what is actually going on. It is not too difficult to find out and you do not have to actually be looking for it. Though there are a lot of gothic elements and turns that make the story seem more alive, there are also a lot of unbelievable elements alongside some rather overtly dramatic scenes for little reason. On top of this the next biggest downside seems to be the sheer amount of characters. There are some characters that simply could have been taken out because of their uselessness to the actual story.
Apart from this, the concept of the story was good. The atmosphere was also well written and the way the story was conveyed was mostly well structured. However, the voice of the main character, Mallory, did not play through too much and more than often, the reader forgets that she is a character with a personality rather than simply the nanny. I think that the lack of actual background into her life apart from the obvious seems to keep her in the background compared to characters like Teddy, Catherine and Ted. It seems like that family just takes over the story entirely and pushes the narrator out. By the end of the book, you do forget that she is a character apart from the absolutely obvious.
All in all, there are many different pros and cons to this book and though I did think there were many disadvantages, especially in the writing style, I was quite surprised at the attempt at originality (though I did actually already guess what the ending was). About 50% of the book was fairly well written and the drawings were pretty creepy too but then there was the second half of the book that, by the latter parts, began to drop off. There are many different ways to look at this and that is why it was so hard to decide a score. Instead of going straight down the middle, which I didn't think was fair based on the effort that went into the book, I chose to give it slightly more.