The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

The Hidden GirlThe Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Having really enjoyed Louise Millar’s two previous novels, I was excited to receive an advance reader’s copy of The Hidden Girl from the publisher via NetGalley.
This domestic-noir thriller begins with Hannah and Will, a young, hip, London couple, moving to an old fixer-upper in the English countryside. At first, the reader is only given bits of the whole picture…we know that Hannah is desperate to renovate the house for a mysterious visitor scheduled to arrive in two weeks. We also know that Will is a music producer who is not happy about moving from London, and we know that the relationship between the two is inexplicably strained. In short order, Will commutes to his studio in London, leaving Hannah alone in the creaky, tumble-down old house. When a storm snows her in, Hannah is left to fend for herself, along with a cast of neighbors straight out of the movie Deliverance.
What follows is nothing short of bizarre and baffling.
First off, The Hidden Girl doesn’t seem like it is written by the same person who wrote Accidents Happen and The Playdate. I don’t know if author Louise Millar’s previous novels were heavily edited before publication, or whether she felt uninspired or rushed to complete this work, or simply was trying something new, but the writing itself is generally, perplexingly poor.
One reason that the writing seems disjointed is that Millar overuses the characters’ proper names. Where she could have substituted “he” or “she,” she refers to “Hannah,” and “Will,” even when each character is by themselves.
Secondly, the story itself is a bit of a mess. As other reviewers, such as Cleo at http://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/ have noted, the plot stretches the limits of credulity. If written differently, it could perhaps have dealt with “big” issues. Instead, to this reader, it was simply unbelievable.
The odd thing is that, despite all these negative qualities, The Hidden Girl is not an unpleasant read. In contrast, I am currently reading Ninepins, by Rosy Thornton. I am really impressed with the depth of characterization, the original voice, and the subtle symbolism in this novel. However, Ninepins is a slow burn of a read. It takes a bit of work and patience.
The Hidden Girl, on the other hand, is not brilliant. The characters don’t make much sense as real people. But despite this, and despite generally feeling like I’ve stepped into a rather weird dream, I found The Hidden Girl to be an easy, interesting, mess of a story.
The closest thing I can compare it to are the novels of Sophie Hannah. Often, they have a pervading sense of strangeness, and I find the characters hard to relate to as more than horror concoctions. About halfway through her thrillers, I often find that I’m pretty confused by all the twists and turns, and yet, the fact that I don’t understand the plot, and don’t really like the characters, somehow doesn’t matter. I’m still addicted to the weird, strange, suspense that Sophie Hannah so skillfully weaves.
The Hidden Girl will entertain you, if you like twisty tales like those of Sophie Hannah, or any kind of domestic noir in which you’ve got an isolated, possibly crazy, main character who gets, through no fault of her own, into a dangerous situation.
The Hidden Girl is not great art, but it is fun. Louise Millar is still one of my favorite authors, and I will wait hopefully for her next novel.

View all my reviews

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cleopatralovesbooks
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 12:23:34

    I totally agree that this did seem to be written by someone else to the first two novels. I also agree it wasn’t a totally unpleasant read, but it was strange… Thanks for referencing my blog 🙂

    Reply

  2. Hannah
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 16:22:01

    I always know I can check out your blog for good ideas for a book to read! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Review: The Playdate (by Louise Millar) | My Journey So Far….

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