Hide and seek like you’ve never seen it before!
Abandoned fairground? Check. Game of hide and seek with fourteen strangers competing for a cash prize? Check. Ominous feeling that this game isn’t as innocent as it seemed in the beginning? Check.
Why the actual hell have I never read anything by Kiersten White? She’s a New York Times best seller and Bram Stoker Award winner and, according to her website, has a pet tortoise named Kimberly (which is all I need to know, everything else is just confetti).
Hide is White’s brand new Adult horror debut that I bought on a whim (and because creepy carnivals/fairs/clowns are my favorite) but she has a crazy impressive bibliography to back it up: the MG Sinister Summer series, right now with one installment aptly titled Wretched Waterpark (anyone else getting Edgar & Ellen vibes?), the wildly successful YA Camelot Rising trilogy, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein (which is apparently being made into a TV series!), and so many more.
I read this book in two days. It would have been one day but I got too scared to read it before bed. Hide made my skin crawl, it made me check around shadowed corners, it made me feel like I was being watched. Sought. Hunted.
The novel follows a troubled young woman named Mack into a game of hide-and-seek. Mack doesn’t have much to lose; lost and sort of hopeless, haunted by a horrific and violent childhood, and self-admittedly really, really good at hiding. Like her life depends on it. Mack and thirteen strangers- a wounded veteran, an FLDS castaway, a failed social media influencer, etc.- are brought to an old amusement park that was abandoned after the tragic disappearance of a child decades earlier. Some competitors are in it for the money, some are in it for the fame that could come from vlogging their success, and some have no idea why they agreed to take part in the competition at all. They were all invited, individually. Like they were all meant to be there. Like they were all, in some way, important to the game.
The objective is simple- hide for seven days among the rusted and dangerous amusement park rides. Two competitors get out each day until only one remains. The competitors ask questions; like, who’s seeking? why don’t our cell phones work? why two people per day? why is this amusement park set up in such a maze? what’s with the giant fence and scary-looking gate? They don’t get any answers. Not really, anyway.
And that’s it. We get to watch the game unfold. We get to watch as competitors are taken from the competition. Tensions rise. Alliances are forged and betrayed. Bonds are made and severed. Blood is shed.
It’s hard to dive any further without spoilers and- as seasoned readers of this space know- I don’t do the spoiler thing. Not usually. And definitely not with this book. You just have to BE there. You have to read it. You have to neglect all your other responsibilities to turn the page and cover your eyes and sit on the edge of your seat and gasp for breath when each new chapter brings a new horror and new answer to the competitor’s questions. It’s hard to describe the book other than creepy, tingly, whip-smart, socially relevant, and just damn scary. It’s not about the creepy amusement park. Not really. It’s about the horror of people, capitalism, entitlement, family secrets. …and a little about the amusement park. I mean, it was built for a reason, right?
If my vague praise isn’t enough to get you excited for this book, the dope cover art and inside-cover art should do the trick. The map of the amusement park is such a cool feature, and chock full of Easter eggs and hints and strange declarations.
In the end, I guess, Hide is about the games we play to get through life. Social climbing, social media, the bonds we make with family and friends. The horrific things people will do to get ahead, in life or in a simple game of hide and seek. What would you do for a cash prize? What would you do if you couldn’t afford to lose?
Come out, come out, wherever you are!
Five stars overall, four stars on the scare scale.
Reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Or, not. Trick-or-treat, after all.
Buy Kiersten White’s books here !
Book cover art is used Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107 under the “fair use” defense.
All other images are certified public domain.