The Hidden Hours reviewed by Annie

Sara Foster’s All That is Lost Between Us was one of my favourite books of 2016 so I was excited to see that she was releasing another book. The Hidden Hours follows Eleanor Brennan, who at fifteen has ‘two overdoses and some self-harm under her belt already’.

She narrates her story as a nine-year-old, living in a shed in the middle of nowhere Australia, and then at twenty-one in London with her uncle, aunt and two young cousins. There she is working for the publishing house where her aunt is the CEO. After being there a short time the Director of Marketing and Publicity, Arabella Lane is found dead in the Thames River.

Eleanor was one of the last people to see Arabella alive, having been caught up in her extroverted personality and drinking and drug-taking. Because of the latter she cannot remember what happened that night. But she is implicated and under suspicion, as are a number of people with motive and means.

The flashbacks to her childhood show why she ended up in such a bad state as a teenager, as a result of absences and loss, and that she is still carrying much of that baggage with her as an adult. She finds her ‘world is beginning to unravel, pulling at the threads that bind the husk of her nine-year-old self, exposing the cruel edges of all that the years have failed to smother’. The new start she was hoping for has fallen apart. She doesn’t know who to trust – ‘she’s learned from past experiences that once she confides in someone, and they begin to drag down the walls around her, she is liable to crumble’.

As Eleanor starts to remember, more information about each of the players is revealed. The different responses to the death of a colleague and friend are portrayed with authenticity.

This slow-burning thriller looks at mental-illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and infidelity. Many of the characters have something to hide and I read on, wanting to find out what exactly, and who was responsible for Arabella’s death.

This is another intriguing and compelling story from Sara Foster, full of games, cover-ups, secrets, deceit, what-ifs, guilt and regrets, where sometimes ‘pretending is the only way to find the strength to carry on’, but ultimately at what price? In a thought provoking manner, it addresses the choices made, the reasons behind them, and the impact of those decisions, particularly by adults, affecting the young. If you haven’t read Foster’s books before I highly recommend you do.

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