Book Review: The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

My review for The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood is well overdue, but it's better late than never, right? If you're a fan of dark and mysterious stories with an underlying sense of danger that you just can't put your finger on, then this book is right up your street. While reading, I couldn't help feeling that I was lost in a gothic fairy-tale. It just had that atmosphere about it, that anything was possible. That anything could happen. And in The Hidden People, it could. It was enchanting in a way that frightened me a little bit. At times, it was creepy and got beneath my skin, leaving me feeling unsettled about the characters within, and the circumstances that arose. It read like a story from long ago, and I suppose in a way, that works perfectly because it's got that myths and legends feel to it, that disturbing sense of 'what if?'. In Alison Littlewood's The Hidden People, readers are introduced to Albie, whose cousin, Lizzie Higgs, has suffered a tragic, gruesome and incredibly disturbing death by the hands of her husband. A death involving the hearth in her very home, situated in the mysterious village of Halfoak. Unable to forget the time he'd first met Lizzie, Albie decides to head to Halfoak in order to try and figure out what exactly happened to his cousin, and more importantly, why?

As soon as he arrives, Albie finds himself completely wrapped up in the strange village and its beliefs. It's a place that doesn't seem to have moved forward with the times, a place full of bizarre superstitions and surreal happenings that he refuses to believe are true. But it isn't long before the people of Halfoak and their mutterings begin to get beneath his skin. The village folk each have their own opinions on what happened to Lizzie, some believing that the necessity behind it was true. Albie can't quite believe what he's hearing but in order to dig a little deeper into Lizzie's death, he knows that he is going to have to create some sort of relationship with these strangers in order to get to the bottom of it all. His wife later joins him in his quest, and this is where the novel truly becomes twisted and compulsive. As if things were not already strange enough, they begin to get stranger, and Albie's wife, it seems, is succumbing to the village and its people, and the fantasies they appear to have full faith in. Halfoak is a mystery all on its own, never-mind trying to figure out what happened to dear Lizzie. It seems that Albie has an impossible task before him, but a task he is willing to battle with nevertheless, no matter what or whom is at stake.

I was completely absorbed within The Hidden People. I myself am often described as being somewhat whimsical and so, this novel seemed to fit the bill perfectly for me. I became fascinated by the old tales the people of Halfoak told. There was a threat beneath the surface that was impossible to ignore, a sense of danger that stuck with me right the way through. The characters were intriguing to say the least, each of them unique with a piece of advice for Albie that could lead him anywhere in his discoveries. Littlewood has a stunning way with words, placing me right into the setting of Halfoak. I could see everything in my mind perfectly thanks to Alison's superb descriptions and breath-taking talent of bringing the place to life on the page. Although I felt the pacing slowed me down a little bit, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys letting go of reality for a while and stepping into something a little different to the norm. Anything is possible in Halfoak, and Alison Littlewood might just have you believing that.

Hummingbird Reviews is rating The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood with four out of five stars. A riveting take on a village shrouded in mystery and folklore. I could have stepped right into the pages and helped Albie on his search for answers. Darkly wonderful, I'd say.

The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood was published on the 6th October 2016, by Jo Fletcher Books. You can get your copy here.

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