Albie Mirralls has meet his cousin Lizzie once in his life, a meeting which has left a lasting impression on Albie. Ten years later Albie learns about the violent death of Lizzie and his thoughts are set on one thing only: finding out what has happened to Lizzie. Leaving his wife behind, he sets out for the small Yorkshire town of Halfoak, a town riddled with superstitions.
I enjoyed reading this novel, but at the same time I feel like this could have been so much better. Which makes this a frustrating reading experience and a difficult book to give a star rating to.
What I liked: Alison Littlewood knows how to write a compelling story. Despite it being a slow and very descriptive read, I have never been bored by it and I really appreciated the research she has put into this novel. She has managed to capture the Victorian feeling perfectly.
The issues I had with this book:
- On page 300 (out of 368) I still haven´t had a clue what the story is about. Does the plot revolve around the murder of Lizzie, the domestic problems of the main character or the myths surrounding the “hidden people”, the fairies? The author manages to wrap up all the plotlines in the end, but still I´m not a fan of feeling at a loss with regards to the story for almost 300 pages.
- I didn´t like to read the Yorkshire accent: “So one of`em, an old `un, `air like a fox and twice as cunnin`, `e smiled at me. Smiled!” And since the story is taking place in a small town in Yorkshire, there is a LOT of talk such as this.
- My biggest gripe, though, is the main character Albie. The story is told from his point of view, and he is as unreliable as an unreliable narrator gets. Claiming that his wife Helena is sweet-tempered and perfect, the reader gets to know her as bad-tempered and being constantly annoyed with her husband. And here is the thing: I can´t blame her. Being married to such an idiot as Albie, I would be bad-tempered as well. Helena, I feel you.
Another thing I don´t get about Albie is his infatuation with his cousin Lizzie. He has meet her exactly once and this meeting hasn´t struck me as a particularly memorable one. And yet he is completely infatuated with her and leaves his wife in pursuit of the memory of a woman he hasn´t known at all. Not being able to understand the motivations of the main character and he not being able to explain them himself properly, made this story a difficult one to get into and I felt detached from it the whole way through.
The Hidden People isn´t by any means a bad book, but it isn´t a novel I would recommend either. In the end I just feel meh about it, although I liked reading it.