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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Hidden

Hidden - Paul Jaskunas Maggie Wilson was knocked unconscious and almost killed by her husband, or so she believed. It was what she told the police after she awoke from her coma. But years later another man confessed to the crime and his knowledge of so many of the details of the event and the house in which it took place were enough to convince the state prosecution that he was telling the truth and that Maggie’s memory was unreliable. Living alone in the house she shared with him, a house in which his grandparents grew up, she struggles with the possibility that she might have been wrong despite the certainty that she wasn’t.

Set in the American mid-West, Hidden is informed by a powerful sense of place. The sleepy, fetid atmosphere of the forested ravine behind the house in which Maggie spends the lonely hours of the night, drinking and endlessly going over the events of the night she was attacked, is powerfully evoked by Jaskunas’ carefully crafted prose.

Yet despite the quality of the writing and the uniqueness of the situation, I was never completely gripped by the book. Though this book is set in the nineteen nineties and early twenty-first century, the characters felt to me like they had strayed into the text from a John Updike novel of the nineteen fifties. In particular, I felt that Maggie was a woman seen by a man rather than a fully convincing character in her own right.

It’s an impressive debut novel, clever and extremely well-crafted but in the end it left me a little cold because the characters never took complete possession of my imagination.