mountain town and once it has them in its grasp, it refuses to let them go! Too late, the family begin to realize that they have been trapped as this force for evil manipulates them all for its own ends....
The Hidden Valley is the third book of Leigh Lanes that I have read for review and is a very strange kettle of fish indeed! It is described thus: “THE HIDDEN VALLEY is an experiment in structure. The reader will find that nearly every chapter is, in itself, a short story. Also, each main character’s story may be read individually for a different effect. Read THE HIDDEN VALLEY by character, read the short story serial, or read THE WHOLE STORY” and this was enough to
immediately pique my interest but does it entirely work as advertised? The answer, unfortunately, is no...not really.
The short stories of each character are supposed to work independently of each other, each set of chapters giving the reader a different perspective of what is going on but, in my experience, I felt more as though that unless you read the book as a whole, you would be more than a little
confused. Even reading the whole thing together, I was left kind of puzzled exactly what was happening at times. Maybe collecting each individual character’s chapters together and telling each story consecutively rather than splitting them between the other perspectives might have worked better? I don’t know. What I do know is that laying out the book in its current form just made this read like any other novel.
I felt that the whole evil lurking below the surface of a small town idea has been done before and done better. I didn’t particularly think there was much new here and I’m afraid I felt a little disappointed as I was expecting so much more. The author seems to expect the reader to stump up quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to buy into this whole story presented here
and, for me, it was a bit more than I was willing to cough up! The whole background behind what occurs also felt weak and not properly fleshed out and this book ended up resembling a house built on very shaky foundations. Case in point: I may have missed it but at no time did I find reference to how the family decided to move to this area in the first place or how they chose this town over all of the other small towns or how they found the house they moved
into. This seemed like quite an important point to me and one whose absence was
sorely missed. I also found the characters very hard to connect with and not very believable either if I’m being brutally honest - though I did think that using an animal as one of the character perspectives is ridiculous.
It is interesting to note that this is the second of Miss Lane’s novels that I have read that has tried to do something a little bit different (the other was Finding Poe). The only one of her books that I have enjoyed so far, World Mart, has been perhaps the most conventional of the three I have reviewed. I am all for writers attempting something different but I’m not sure
that here, the idea really works as well as it could’ve. This is a book that I really couldn’t get on with and struggled to wade through to the end. I’m trying right now to think of something positive to say about this book but all I can say is that I’m falling woefully short.
The concept behind all this may have been a marvelous idea but it’s fair to say, that it didn’t really work at all and this really did get two thumbs down.