Review: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor

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Review from Goodreads:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.

It was the day she came back.

With the same virtuosic command of character and pacing she displayed in The Chalk Man, CJ Tudor has once again crafted an extraordinary novel that brilliantly blends harrowing psychological suspense, a devilishly puzzling mystery, and enough shocks and thrills to satisfy even the most seasoned reader.

I received a copy of this title via Netgalley. It does not impact my review. 

The Hiding Place will be available February 5, 2019. 

What Worked For Me

-I’m a big fan of Tudor’s writing style. I love the banter, the dark humor, the well-executed multiple timelines. Even though I felt like the pacing was a little too slow for much of the book, I still wanted to keep reading. There’s just something compelling about it.

-Joe. Joe was not exactly a likable character, but I actually liked him a lot. He comes across as an underdog and how can you not root for the underdog? I loved his sense of humor, even it was kind of dark. He’s had a lot of bad things happen in his life and I liked that even though he kept making a lot of bad decisions and was pretty cynical, he still had a sense of hopefulness.

What Didn’t Work For Me

-So, you all know how much I hate it when a surprise supernatural element pops up in a story. I go from reading a believable mystery/thriller to something I can’t take seriously. I honestly think this would work much better marketed as Horror instead of Mystery. I mentally just put it in the Horror category and so it didn’t bother me as much as something like this normally would.

-While there were some surprises at the end of the book, I didn’t really see the point in some of them. It’s hard to explain it without getting spoilery, but I really felt like what happened in Arnhill when Joe was young and why he’s back were the heart of the story, and tacking on an extra reveal at the end that you didn’t even realize you were supposed to be trying to figure out seemed unnecessary.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Hiding Place. I liked the writing and the characters – namely Joe. However, the supernatural angle and the unnecessary final twist did sour me a bit. Still, I think fans of Tudor’s previous work will enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

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Review: Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

Several years ago there was a popular mockumentary on tv about mermaids. They weren’t The Little Mermaid type of mermaids, either. And there were people who didn’t understand that it wasn’t a real documentary and got really upset over it. When I heard of this book, it reminded me of that tv show and I knew I wanted to read it. This is not the kind of book I normally read and while there were many parts I really enjoyed, there were many I didn’t care for either. My thoughts are kind of all over the place on this book and my review will be, as well.

Science, Science Everywhere! I knew from reviews I read before starting this book that there was going to be a good amount of science involved. This isn’t something I generally appreciate in novels, but I thought I could skim through those parts if I needed to. The thing is, though, that the majority of characters were scientists and scientific thoughts was just part of their POV. There is no getting away from the science in this book. I was thankful I read this on an e-reader that I could easily look things up, as terms were thrown around without any explanation. Even though I didn’t exactly like this part of the book, I thought it was incorporated in a way that made sense and there wasn’t a lot of over the top description.

It was super preachy on environmental issues. If you’re someone who use the terms “Climate Alarmists” or “tree-huggers”, this book might be a little too much for you. It’s kind of one long, never-ending lecture on how humans are bad and ruin the planet. However, the book is about scientists, so you should expect those kinds of conversations.

Lots of great character development, but not very likable characters. The book bounces around many different POVs. While I don’t always like that technique, I thought it worked really well here. We even get the POV of the mermaids a few times, which I really enjoyed. I felt like we got a good deal of character development from all the POVs we got and even though that made the book a little long, it was worth it. Unfortunately, I found almost all of the characters pretty unlikable. And the ones I did like are the ones I probably shouldn’t have (i.e. Michi and Jacques. They were crazy and awful, but fun to read).

There is gore, but not as much as I expected. For being a horror novel, I expected a lot more death and gore than what was involved. There was a lot more time spent on scientific explanations than on horror. There were some really well-written scenes of suspense and fear, but for the most part I didn’t really feel the urgency for survival from the characters that I wanted. While there were many deaths, there were very few that actually made an impact.

Overall, I liked Into the Drowning Deep, but not as much as I was hoping to. The chapters were long and the pace was pretty slow most of the time. I felt like I spent all of my free time reading and it still took me several days more to finish it than I was expecting. I felt like the character development and the moments of suspense were enough to save it from the slower paced science information for the most part, but then I found the ending really anticlimactic. This book is listed as #1 in a series, but I’m not sure if there will be more books coming or just because there was a prequel novella. I do plan on reading the novella and I might consider reading a sequel if there is one. If you’re someone who like a little horror and a lot of science, this book might be for you.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars