The below is my flash review of the fantasy novel The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood. I hope you enjoy!
I felt like the plot was like a fine wine – it matured with age. What started out as an intriguing but simple premise of a man investigating his cousin’s death in a backwater town slowly transformed into something far more sinister and multi-layered. The author knew exactly what she was doing, and the swaying back and forth between superstition, madness and the horror that both can create was expertly achieved.
The protagonist is a complex man, driven by his pomposity and a desire for a girl he hardly ever knew. He is flawed, relatable and also – strangely – a voice of reason. His wife is also well portrayed as a tormented woman slowly driven towards fairie. Most of the surrounding rustic characters are fleshed out as much as the narrative allows. Mystery shrouds them…and it works.
Dark fairytales are nothing new, but where The Hidden People excels is in the ambiguity that parades through most of the book. We constantly ask ourselves what is real and what isn’t. We live through the protagonist’s mind and his rigid beliefs. There is just enough happening to always drive towards the next revelation. The book is simple and yet not so. Terrific stuff.
The Hidden People is a short, sharp book that is tightly crafted by an expert author. The narrative centres on two strong and wildly different characters. The backwards town serves as a detailed settlement for grisly happenings and I found myself racing through the novel in a contented blur. The denouement was more than satisfactory in its multi layers, and what came before just as entertaining. Would recommend to those who like horror, fantasy, and literary fiction.