“We don’t know how much our bodies can endure until we make cruel demands of them.”
― Jason Rekulak, Hidden Pictures
My latest read, Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak, is my first 5 star read for 2023! It was the 2022 Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Horror. I highly recommend that you read a physical copy of this book, instead of listening to it, as there are drawings scattered throughout that are essential to the narrative.
Mallory Quinn is right out of rehab looking for a job. On the recommendation of her sponsor, she lands a job as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey. Mallory will be spending her days taking care of their five-year-old son, Teddy. This job immediately appeals to Mallory. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, is able to continue her workout regime by going on nightly runs, and finally has the stability that allows her to thrive.
Mallory and Teddy’s relationship blooms. Teddy is sweet, yet incredibly shy. He doesn’t get along with other little kids and would rather hang out with Mallory exploring the forest behind their house. Teddy also always has his sketchbook and pencils within reach. He spends his free time drawing the usual kid pictures: trees, rabbits, people. One day, his drawings change. Mallory finds a drawing of a man in a forest dragging a woman’s lifeless body.
Mallory is shocked. As the days progress, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister. His drawing style also drastically changes. He starts drawing more lifelike images, something way more detailed and complex than a five-year-old should be able to draw. When Mallory learns the history of her area, a chill runs through her. She starts to think that maybe Teddy’s artwork is actually snapshots of an unsolved murder that occurred years ago. Could something supernatural be lurking in the Maxwell house, haunting and telling Teddy what to draw? What is Mallory willing to do to help Teddy?
This book is also available in the following formats:
Ruth Ware is a suspenseful mystery author who has consistently put out a new bestseller every year since 2015. Her newest book, The Turn of the Key, takes the idea of a ‘smart’ home and juxtaposes that high modernity against the ruggedly beautiful Scottish Highlands.
Rowan Caine wasn’t looking for a new job when she stumbled upon the advertisement online looking for a new live-in nanny. The description made the job sound too good to be true. Being a nanny to a wealthy family living in the Scottish Highlands sounded like a dream, plus the pay didn’t hurt. Heading out to the interview, Rowan becomes increasingly nervous when she arrives at Heatherbrae to see all the technology that essentially runs the home for you. After getting the job, Rowan moves in to Heatherbrae and everything starts to change.
The family is made up of three young girls, an older girl away at boarding school, a father seldom home, and a mother with never-ending boundless energy. Throw in two rambunctious big dogs and a handsome handyman and Rowan can’t comprehend why the family has such a hard time keeping a nanny. As soon as she moves in, Rowan begins to struggle with learning the technology that runs the home. Even the simplest tasks are controlled through hidden panels in each room. Consoling herself with the fact that the mom will be around for a few weeks to help her establish a routine with the girls, Rowan is shocked when both mom and dad take off the day after she arrives, leaving her alone with the children, the dogs, and the increasingly creepy house.
Desperate to show she is capable, Rowan tries to do her best. It doesn’t take long before she begins to question her decision to take this job. Strange noises in the night and notes left around for her to find combined with the house’s technology seeming to revolt against her at every inopportune moment leave Rowan shaky and shattered. The housekeeper doesn’t like Rowan, plus one of the children, Maddie, is becoming increasingly difficult and is acting like it is her life’s mission to make Rowan miserable. The noises from the attic above keep her awake throughout the night, affecting her sleep and her ability to care for the three youngest children. When the oldest girl, Rhiannon, arrives home from boarding school, Rowan’s life slips from bad to worse when Rhiannon starts acting out and disappearing for hours and sometimes all night. Once Rhiannon begins digging into Rowan’s past and finds her secrets, Rowan begins to wonder how and if she will survive her time at Heatherbrae.
This book is available in the following formats: