Peppered with flavorful tidbits of Celtic mythology, paragraphs from traditional Selkie tales published from 1849 – 1903 which help set the mood, The Hidden by Melanie Golding is a psychological thriller that starts out intensely with an abandoned child and a bloody body in a bathtub. The chapters are short and switch perspectives, timeframes and characters. They keep the reader wanting to read just a little more, then more, until suddenly half the book is finished.
The protagonist Ruby suffers from depression and doesn’t sleep well. From her apartment window, she watches an unknown man who practices yoga every morning at 3 AM. When Ruby actually meets the man, Gregor, she is pulled into his life and introduced to his partner and child. Gregor claims his partner, Constance, is agoraphobic and delusional. Constance says she cannot leave the apartment because Gregor has hidden her coat, her sealskin, which she needs in order to return to her people in Scotland.
Ruby’s new relationship with Gregor, Constance, and their child, Leonie, is bonded via music. Ruby, a music teacher, plays her violin, bringing the family joy and comfort. Constance and Leonie sing. They become like muses, as Ruby starts to compose new songs. Celtic lyrics add to the folklore ambience of the writing, especially if you are listening to the audio version @libro.fm.
The Hidden delves into the question of what makes a good mother. The detective investigating the case of the body in the tub is Ruby’s mother Joanna. The story of Joanna and Ruby is painful, with a ring of truth. The two of them are attempting to reconnect, but find it hard to find the proper balance. The story of Constance and her child Leonie is also a difficult one. Constance has a fierce love for her child, but at the same time has her own serious needs to deal with.
The main action of the story takes place over Christmas, making this a good read for December if you’re not looking for holly, jolly and festive. Melanie Golding’s last novel Little Darlings is soon to be a motion picture. This reader would be happy to see the same happen with The Hidden. This unique novel could be a good fit for fans of Gillian Flynn.