Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review - The Hidden by Tobias Hill

The Hidden
Tobias Hill
Format: eBook
File Size: 512 KB
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 13, 2009
Pages: 458 (Portrait view)
ISBN: 978-0-06-194305-8


          There’s no denying that Tobias Hill has great skill and mastery over the English language and the mystery veiled in The Hidden was compelling enough on the surface to pique my interest but certain aspects of this story did not meet my expectations. One would think that with a story written about an archeological dig in Sparta, Greece that the so-called “hidden” (and, since I dislike spoilers, I won’t divulge what it is here) would be an extraordinary, unprecedented discovery. Think of the possibilities; undiscovered treasure of immense value or warring archeology factions, perhaps a supernatural entity unleashed accidently or even an ancient murder mystery uncovered – sadly, none of the above comes remotely close to the reality. And that’s the real problem with this story. The “hidden,” once known, is so mundane and “been-there-done-that” that I was very disappointed when Mr. Hill finally revealed it. It’s evident that Tobias Hill is a gifted writer. His prose paints fabulous mental images. His characters are believable, real and substantial, but not convincingly appealing in this story and while I was drawn in by his detailed descriptions and the clarity of his voice the narrative seriously lagged in places and what he created with a talented hand fell far short in substance.

           When I first started writing this review I had in mind giving The Hidden a solid two and a half stars but the more I thought about it the more I decided to boost that to a three; simply because of Hill’s writing proficiency and acumen. The subject is worthy of a story but this one could have been managed profoundly better. I am certain that there are readers that will thoroughly enjoy this mystery but for me the one thing that kept me reading was the anticipation of the reveal which, once uncovered, was a regrettable choice by the author and a disappointment to me.

          With that said, I should mention that I will attempt to read Tobias Hill again in the future. He definitely has the chops and I do enjoy his style. This story may not have stood out for me but the next may. And, I will say this… It is rare that I give unfavorable reviews but rarer still that I read additional works by an author that did not live up to my expectations. Mr. Hill is an exceptional writer  and I will seek out his next book.

2 1/2 (oh, yeah) 3 out of 5 stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

The Guardian Review

NY Times Review

Tobias Hill Wiki Page

Tobias Hill Interview

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