Book Review / Melanie Golding / Reviews with Spoilers

Melanie Golding | The Hidden

The Book: 

The Hidden by Melanie Golding

Published November 9th 2021 by Crooked Lane Books
Date read: October 21, 2021

The Characters: 

Constance, Gregor, and their daughter Leonie
DS Joana Harper

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

One dark December night, in a small seaside town, a little girl is found abandoned. When her mother finally arrives, authorities release the pair, believing it to be an innocent case of a toddler running off.

Gregor, a seemingly single man, is found bludgeoned and left for dead in his apartment, but the discovery of children’s toys raises more questions than answers.

Every night, Ruby gazes into Gregor’s apartment, leading to the discovery of his secret family: his unusually silent daughter and his mentally unstable wife, Constance, who insists that she is descended from the mythological Selkies. She begs Ruby to aid in finding the sealskin that Gregor has hidden from her, making it impossible to return to her people.

DS Joanna Harper’s investigation into Gregor’s assault leads her to CCTV footage of the mother-daughter pair from town. Harper realizes she knows the woman almost as well as she knows herself: it’s her estranged daughter, Ruby. No matter the depth of Ruby’s involvement, she knows she will choose her daughter over her career.

Click here for book spoilers for The Hidden
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Hidden, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist: 

Ruby was Joanna’s daughter, raised by Joanna’s parents as her sister. (Fun fact: my great-grandmother’s family did this same thing! It was a big family secret but some of the neighbors knew).

“Gregor” was a serial killer. He was referred to as “The Man” once we found out he had stolen Gregor’s identity (and murdered him and his mother and kept them brined in a secret room in his house so they wouldn’t smell). The Man had kidnapped Constance on her coming-of-age night and hid her selkie skin so she couldn’t get back to her people.

The author leaves it up to the reader whether they want to believe Constance was really a selkie.

When Ruby brings Leonie to the place she’s supposed to meet Constance, Gregor follows her there. Constance appears from the waves, although there’s nothing nearby she could have swam from. Gregor shows up, threatens them, and grabs Leonie and is about to throw her off the cliff. Joanna arrives just in time to distract Gregor so that Constance is able to tackle him off the cliff. Gregor’s body is found by the police, but Constance’s never is.

The Ending:

Leonie goes into foster care. Ruby begins dating Sam and they want to adopt Leonie, but Leonie has already been adopted by someone who might be related to Constance’s clan. Right at the end of the book we find out that Ruby is pregnant.

The Review: 

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and LibraryThing for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

This premise was absolutely fascinating. Constance believes she is a selkie, and that Gregor is keeping her captive by hiding her sealskin. Without the sealskin, she can’t swim back to her family. Ruby isn’t sure whether to believe Constance, but she quickly realizes that something isn’t quite right in their household.

I really loved how this author included the selkie folklore in this mystery. It added a layer of magical realism that I wasn’t expecting! It really made it unique and helped it stand out from the other thrillers I’ve read lately. From reading some other reviews, it looks like she did this in her previous novel as well, which I am definitely interested in checking out. 

I liked the side-plot of the relationship between Joanna and Ruby, and how Joanna had to reconcile her feelings toward Ruby with her dedication to the case. I thought Joanna was a great protagonist, and would definitely like to read more about her.

One minor pet peeve is that the narrator switched back and forth between “Jo” and “Harper” when referring to the detective. Since Harper could also be a first name, I did get mixed up a few times at the beginning thinking there was another character.

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