What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards

What You Hide Cover

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Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven… 

DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



TW: domestic abuse, homelessness, overdose

When I started What You Hide, it didn’t take long for me to get hooked, between Spencer climbing things he shouldn’t and Mallory dealing with the looming threat of her stepfather at home. There was a tension that sunk its teeth in and refused to let go, because here were two very different teenagers with very different lives, and I was invested.

Mallory in particular caught my attention, and my heart went out to her. At the beginning of the book, she flees home to escape the controlling, emotionally abusive clutches of her stepfather, and is forced to leave behind her pregnant mother in the process. It’s heart-wrenching, honestly, watching her scramble to fend for herself, keep herself safe from Charlie’s influence and maybe somehow find a way to protect her mother as well. She’s determined but scared, and resourceful to top it off. It makes a compelling combination, which made her my favorite character.

Spencer I liked a little less, but only because Mallory affected me so strongly. He was well-meaning and playful, and acknowledged the privilege he had as a boy from a rich family. He just didn’t have the depth Mallory did, though, and while I think Richards tried to make him likable and relatable in the ways he acknowledged his privilege and also struggled with the choices before him, I just didn’t connect with him quite the same as Mallory. It didn’t help that I felt like his struggles weren’t half as rough as the ones Mallory’s friend Lana was facing, and I almost feel like Lana would have been a more interesting character, but she was pushed well to the side for the most part.

And then the second half of the book rolled around, and I finished it off with mixed feelings.

On one hand, I really liked Mallory’s arc and the conclusion it reached. It wasn’t perfect, but it did feel realistic, and the Mallory at the end has a whole lot of spine to her, not that she wasn’t courageous before. There was change, and it was amazing. Again, Spencer’s arc was somewhat less satisfying to me, perhaps because I didn’t connect, or maybe because it felt kind of trivial next to Mallory’s arc.

But the resolution to the mystery really let me down. I came into the book thinking the mystery in the library would play a greater role, and that the solution would be much more believable and forceful. Instead, it felt more like a footnote than anything, and it broke me well out of the suspension of disbelief as I tried to figure out how on earth any of it was remotely possible. It felt like an incredibly flimsy solution, and like it had taken second place to everything else that happened in the story.

I’ll admit I was also unhappy with the romance, too. Earlier in the book, I actually liked Spencer and Mallory’s dynamic. It was cautious, as new friend dynamics can be, but had something of a genuine and curious feeling to it. As it shifted into a romance, though, I found myself more and more bored. Spencer spent most of his time thinking about Mallory, but Mallory spent most of her time thinking about the dire straits she was in, and it didn’t seem like romance was even remotely relevant.

Essentially, in this half of the book, things began to fall apart for me in a way that just couldn’t knit itself back together, which was a disappointment. I really did want to enjoy it as much as I really enjoyed the tension and thrills of the first half, but the payoff wasn’t even half as exciting as I was expecting.

That said, if you love thrillers with romance and want to read about characters coming together across very different walks of life, then What You Hide might just be for you! It comes out December 4 this year, so there’s still time to preorder it or ask your library to get a copy! Go, go, go!


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