cover image Hidden Pictures

Hidden Pictures

Jason Rekulak. Flatiron, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-81934-5

Rekulak (The Impossible Fortress) uses horror as a lens to bring the dark underbelly of suburbia into focus in this gripping supernatural thriller. Narrator Mallory Quinn is a 21-year-old recovering addict getting a second chance as a live-in nanny to five-year-old Teddy Maxwell, a sweet-natured young artist whose wonderfully creepy pictures appear throughout the novel. His uncanny muse/model is his “imaginary friend,” Anya, whom his erudite, politically correct parents dismiss. Mallory takes Anya seriously, however, especially as Teddy’s art rapidly turns darker and impossibly sophisticated and Mallory learns of a long-ago murder in her guest house quarters. How is Anya manipulating Teddy? Could she be the murder victim? And why do Mallory’s concerns provoke such explosive emotion in Teddy’s parents? The plot unfolds at a good clip, and Mallory’s voice is engrossing, if occasionally too writerly for her working-class South Philly roots. There are no shocking twists here, but Rekulak isn’t looking to keep readers up at night; he’s holding a mirror up to white, affluent Gen X and asking pointed questions about class, trauma, and horror conventions. In that mode, he executes well and sticks the landing. (May)