Blog Tour & #ATBR2022 – Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

Happy Wednesday! Here today on the blog tour for this new release.

Thanks to Flatiron Books for the free early copy in exchange for my honest review

HIDDEN PICTURES – Jason Rekulak (Released May 17th, 2022)

Book Description:

From Jason Rekulak, Edgar-nominated author of The Impossible Fortress, comes a wildly inventive spin on the classic horror story in Hidden Pictures, a creepy and warm-hearted mystery about a woman working as a nanny for a young boy with strange and disturbing secrets.

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.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Oh hi there. Chandra with her five-head here to tell you alllll about HIDDEN PICTURES.  Ok. Yes. Yes. I loved this book. I don’t know what the ebook would look like, but for the sake of the illustrations, which play a HUGE part in this story, I highly recommend getting the printed version. Yes, do that.  Immediately.

Teddy, the young boy Mallory is sitting for for the summer.  Such a kid! And I adore him!  I loved his relationship with Mallory and just how good she is with him.  Then we get to see the story ramp up as the child like illustrations start to take on a life of their own.  And then on page 189, with one of the illustrations, I pointed at it and yelled, out loud, “I KNEW IT!” and of course… that was the first sentence on the next page.  Mallory and I were seeing the SAME THING. 🤣 I simply love it when a book gets me involved this much!

Then we get to the last 15% or so and boy does it ramp up.  Maybe even goes off the rails just a bit much and I spy plot holes but I’ll gladly hop right over them because I was having so much fun with the story.  And while epilogues can make or break a book sometimes, I was really happy with the way this ended.  It got me right in the feels.  BAM.

This story didn’t go where I thought it would.  I consider this more of a light horror read from the paranormal aspect but ultimately it’s a thrilling good ride. Love.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

This was my introduction to Jason Rekulak and you better believe this will not be the last book I pick up by him. HIDDEN PICTURES was addictive from start to finish and I loved how dark it was and the pictures added in really set the creepy tone for the book. With the photos included in the book, I’d highly recommend reading the physical book (if you’re able to, of course) as opposed to the ebook or audiobook to really get the full experience, however, I am curious how they would translate into the audiobook form (although I’ve seen other reviews that said the narrator was perfect)

Mallory is now 18 months sober and is offered a job as a live-in nanny by a wealthy family. She gets to watch five year old Teddy over the summer and live in the guest house on the property – what Mallory considers a fresh start. Teddy loves to draw and is often found drawing things you would expect a preschooler to draw, until one day his drawings take a dark and disturbing turn. When Mallory sees his latest creation: a man in the forest dragging a woman’s body, she becomes increasingly concerned. As time goes on Teddy’s drawings become more concerning, and what were once simple stick figures begin to turn into incredibly detailed artwork.

Despite the pacing never really slowing down the ending really ramps up the stakes and I couldn’t put it down. Gotta love when you become so invested in the characters that you HAVE to see how it’s going to end without delay. I’ve had some solid reads so far, but this one definitely stands out. It had a little more originality than the typical supernatural/mild horror thrillers, and especially compared to other thrillers these days. The relationship between Mallory and Teddy was a shining point in the book and I did enjoy how things wrapped up in the end.

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