The Hidden is the final book in The Hollow series by Jessica Verday. The series is set in Sleepy Hollow, New York and centers around main character Abbey Browning during a couple of rough years of her life. Losing your best friend is hard; falling in love with someone who you can’t have is even worse. These are the central themes of this series and, beyond that, the rest of the story is pretty set dressing. I started this series a few weeks ago and have had some rough stops and starts with it but I am finally done and…yeah, as you might suspect I have some thoughts.
* Spoilers ahead for those who have not read The Hollow and The Haunted *
Abbey is recovering from her home invasion by Vincent Drake. After the attack, she realized that the signs are pointing to the fact that she may die soon. This is fine with her as it means that she can finally be with her true love Caspian Vander. Caspian died a few years ago and now exists between our world and another. He can touch everything but Abbey and this has naturally caused some tension in their relationship as she would like more romance than he can give her. Their problems come from outside of their relationship as well. Vincent is still on the loose and nobody wants to see Abbey hurt, least of all Caspian who fears that her life may end as tragically as his once did.
Against my better sense, I did enjoy reading this series. However, it wasn’t easy, particularly this book. Very early on I realized that there seemed to be two big character/plot holes involving a friend’s relationship and a science test that had to be taken. Because of this, I searched both of the older books to find an explanation. I found one resolved later in The Hidden almost as an afterthought, which annoyed me. It felt extremely lazy and minimized the very character struggle that Verday was trying to convey. The former one may have been resolved somewhere in book one or two but as much as I searched for it and skim-read I could not find it. So, we have one afterthought resolution and one probably-not resolution. Which is not good.
Both of these things are problematic because, well, it’s not like the books have a very detailed plot going on. To lose track of details like this during the journey make it very awkward when other things (actions, events, and so forth) are spelled out to the nth degree of detail.
For instance, I know that Abbey leaves school for the day, walks along the road in her dirty sneakers, peers into the field, looks over her shoulder, sighs aloud as she enters the cemetery, kicks a stone on the path, peers at the individual gravestones, touches one of the faded letter headings, shifts her backpack from one shoulder to another, looks over her shoulder again, searches for Caspian behind a tree, under the bridge, and in his crypt, stops and speaks with Nikolas and Katy, enjoys a cup of peppermint tea, engages in friendly banter, heads home, trips over her feet along the way, opens her door and pockets the key, checks her phone as she walks into the house, sets her bag down, heads to the kitchen, opens the fridge, peers inside, shuffles some items, opens a cupboard, finds her snack, goes upstairs, enters her room, sets the snack on her desk after she locks the door, peers about to see that nothing has changed (though she feels it has), jostles an item on her perfume stand, opens the perfume drawers, gazes at the items within, catalogs the items within, pulls out an old sample and smells it, puts it back, pulls out another sample and smells it, puts it back, repeats this two or three times before she yawns, eats a bite of her food, leaves the rest untouched (for her mother to later clean up), and then decides to go to bed.
I know that she does all of these things in some semblance of this order on pretty much a daily basis because this sums up how Verday wrote her journey from chapter to chapter since the beginning of The Hollow. It is not exact and I did paraphrase, but you get the idea. Considering this step-by-step detailing of the minutiae of her life how is it possible to lose (or forget entirely to resolve) a few major character/plot points? Everything else is laid bare and out there for the taking, why not that? How are such points so carelessly lost? The sense behind these losses eludes me.
(If there is a resolution to either of these plot points, please feel free to comment or clarify them. I couldn’t find them and, clearly, my attention wavered because I was trying to hunt them down after I realized that they were missing.)
Lets move onto the main characters, which I liked but also did not in tandem. Abbey has always been entitled, spoiled, and deeply whiny to me. She expects her mother to do all of her household chores for her and revels in frequent treats and showering of gifts from both her parents (who mostly don’t parent other than in spending money on Abbey). In this book Abbey gets her dream handed to her but all she can think about is dying to join her love in the grave beyond. Somewhere along the way she was convinced that she was terminal, that her life was at an end. This transition makes no sense as there was little leading up to this beyond a few tossed in details about revenants appearing and her attack by Vincent. Besides that the paranormal aspects are shoddily constructed with barely-there details and then the world/mythos-building is practically non-existent? None of this makes sense. The substance is absent and, therefore, it is hard to believe any of it.
And yet, once again, I finished the book and the series altogether, which I think says a lot about the mood that I was in at the time. They were not captivating but I kept returning to them. They were not very well written, but I could not put them down. I had a stack of other books that I had to work through and yet this book and this series were the ones that kept drawing my attention. Which, I freely admit, I have no idea why? Why did this story appeal to me? Why did I keep reading despite multiple annoyances between writing and character development? This detail eludes me too. I think it comes down to possibility…to the potential of what these books might have been and not what they were. They might have been amazing because they reference The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and have a light, fun paranormal flavor. They might have been wonderful because the main love interest was a ghost, and a handsome one at that. They might have been devastating because the main character Abbey was suffering a tremendous loss while falling for someone that she couldn’t have without dying first?
They might have been awesome. Tremendous. Engaging. Spectacular. But they just weren’t. For me, at least.
I think if I was thirteen I might have loved these but, then again, I might have been able to look passed all of their flaws.
Maybe another time, maybe another series by Verday. Maybe I will fall in love with her another day. Just not this one.
3 out of 5 stars.
– Follow the Reader –