Friday, January 27, 2023

Book Review: HIDE by Kiersten White

: Hide
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Page Count: 256 Pages
Publication Date/Year: 2022
Genre: Horror

We all played Hide and Go Seek when we were kids, right? How many of us played in an amusement park, let alone an abandoned and closed amusement park? Probably very few people were afforded that opportunity. That’s the basic premise of Hide, Kiersten White’s first novel for adults. The added layer is that 14 people are chose to play in the “Olly Olly Oxen Free Hide and Seek Tournament” in an Amusement Park that has been abandoned since the mid-1970s. The winner is promised fame and $50,000. 

Our main sightline into this novel is Mackenzie Black, a young woman who is the lone survivor of her father snapping and killing her family. She’s out of work and essentially homeless, so it is difficult for her to say no. Especially since she has spent most of her life hiding…hiding from the spotlight, hiding in the house when her father murdered the family.

Other participants in the latest game are an “internet celebrity,” a CrossFit instructor, a person hiding from his own cultish family, a street artist, an actress, among others. White does a very good job of providing just enough background for these supporting characters to make them distinct and real.

Each night the contestants go out and hide, with two people always being “found.” How they are found, nobody knows. The “found” contestants simply don’t show up at the check in in the morning. As more of the contestants are found, the remaining contestants begin to form bonds in pairs. This is not something Mack planned on or even wanted when she entered the contest. Her journey as a character provides a great deal of the novel's emotional weight. 

I couldn’t help but find parallels between this novel and one of Stephen King’s early novels written as Richard Bachman, The Long WalkThe Long Walk is a gem of a novel and could be considered one of King’s best. White takes a similar premise and adds in some of her own flavors, particularly around the history of the amusement park and how the contestant pool shrinks every day. There’s some borderline folk-horror elements to the tale, but White grounds the events and characters with enough reality that those elements are just as believable.

I thought she brought Hide to a very satisfying conclusion that could have some room for more stories.

I’ve also got to give a big shout out to the design of this novel, the end papers are wonderful. Anybody who has visited some kind of amusement park knows there’s a map you can get that shows where the rides are. Well, the endpapers in Hide Elwira Pawlikowska are clever in their depiction of “The Amazement Park” where the novel is set.

Hide is a fun, dark, vicious novel I have to recommend.

No comments: