Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak reviewed

Hidden Pictures Book Cover Hidden Pictures
Jason Rekulak
Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere
June 23, 2022

Mallory is delighted to have a new job looking after gorgeous four-year-old, Teddy. She's been sober for a year and a half and she's sure her new nannying role in the affluent suburbs will help keep her on the straight and narrow.

That is until Teddy starts to draw disturbing pictures of his imaginary friend, Anya. It is quite clear to Mallory and to Teddy's parents, even in his crude childlike style, that the woman Teddy is drawing in his pictures is dead.

Teddy's crayons are confiscated, and his paper locked away. But the drawings somehow keep coming, telling a frightening story of a woman murdered... and they're getting more sophisticated. But if Teddy isn't drawing the pictures any more, who is? And what are they trying to tell Mallory about her new home?

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

The first chapter of Hidden Pictures is quite strange but it drew me in. After that Mallory has been off drugs for 18 months at the start of the main part of the book. With the help of her sponsor she is going for a job looking after a 4 year old called Teddy. She will have her own accommodation in a small chalet in the gardens. This degree of isolation from her previous life should allow her the space to stay clean and get her life back on track.

She was a runner before her addiction and so hopes to get back to a level of fitness once again. The job would seem to be ideal for her. Ted and Caroline, Teddy’s parents, seem happy to have her even if there are some reservations about the possibility of her falling back into drug use. The other minor issue is with Teddy’s imaginary friend Anya. Teddy draws pictures on Anya’s instructions and they are somewhat disturbing. Strangely the pictures don’t stop even when Teddy’s drawing materials are removed…

I liked the start of Hidden Pictures a lot. Mallory has a straightforward approach and seems to be ideal in her role looking after Teddy. I found her quite understated much of the time which worked for me. While her life has been difficult she manages to seem ordinary in the nicest sense of the word. The story does revolve around Teddy, Anya and the pictures. There are twists and turns in this. In the main they worked for me and I was generally entertained.

I found the writing in Hidden Pictures good. Mallory as a character really did work very well for me. I enjoyed getting to know her. Her descent into addiction and then beginning recovery seemed valid. Other characters were generally good too I felt. The paranormal aspects of this I thought were OK though it’s not something that I would usually read maybe. Other than the paranormal I think that the life Mallory had a carer for Teddy might have been a little too “perfect”. My main issue is probably with the ending though. To me this was simply over the top in the context of the whole book. Allowing for that I still found this an enjoyable read.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review