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The Hidden People

The Hidden People

3.0 2
by Alison Littlewood

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In 1851, within the grand glass arches of London's Crystal Palace, Albie Mirralls meets his cousin Lizzie for the first—and, as it turns out, last—time. His cousin is from a backward rural village, and Albie expects she will be a simple country girl, but instead he is struck by her inner beauty and by her lovely singing voice, which is beautiful beyond


In 1851, within the grand glass arches of London's Crystal Palace, Albie Mirralls meets his cousin Lizzie for the first—and, as it turns out, last—time. His cousin is from a backward rural village, and Albie expects she will be a simple country girl, but instead he is struck by her inner beauty and by her lovely singing voice, which is beautiful beyond all reckoning. When next he hears of her, many years later, it is to hear news of her death at the hands of her husband, the village shoemaker.

Unable to countenance the rumors that surround his younger cousin's murder—apparently, her husband thought she had been replaced by one of the "fair folk" and so burned her alive—Albie becomes obsessed with bringing his young cousin's murderer to justice. With his father's blessing, as well as that of his young wife, Albie heads to the village of Halfoak to investigate his cousin's murder. When he arrives, he finds a community in the grip of superstition, nearly every member of which believes Lizzie's husband acted with the best of intentions and in the service of the village.

There, Albie begins to look into Lizzie's death and to search for her murderous husband, who has disappeared. But in a village where the rationalism and rule of science of the Industrial Revolution seem to have found little purchase, the answers to the question of what happened to Lizzie and why prove elusive. And the more he learns, the less sure he is that there aren't mysterious powers at work.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There’s an amazing sense of place and time in this novel, as Littlewood (Zombie Apocalypse! Acapulcalypse Now!) perfectly captures the literary style, attitudes, and class consciousness of Victorian England. Albie Mirrals has a passing fancy for his young, poorly situated cousin Lizzie, but he ends up in a happy marriage with a fellow member of the upper classes. When Lizzie is murdered by her husband in a small town with deep-rooted superstitions about fairies, Albie investigates and ends up calling his entire life into question in a mystery that’s pleasant but predictable. Littlewood carefully refrains from revealing whether the fairies are real or mere myth. Albie’s actions doom him at the right moments; indeed, there’s no suspense at all to his character arc, which is straight out of Poe, right down to the uncomfortable romance. The female characters, particularly Albie’s wife, get short shrift in the story, and the plot is predictable for anyone familiar with works of the era. This is an accurate pastiche of Victorian fiction, with all the attendant positives and negatives. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"The Hidden People deftly drops readers into a bygone world where wise women dabble in foretelling the future and sharing herbal concoctions; hobgoblins, changelings and fairies are evident, if you know how to look; and folktales and fantasies can pervade the mind, bringing on delusions and misconceptions that threaten to overwhelm even the most logically minded soul."—Shelf Awareness

"Expertly creates an atmosphere of unease."—Kirkus Reviews

"There's an amazing sense of place and time in this novel . . . Littlewood perfectly captures the literary style, attitudes, and class consciousness of Victorian England."
Publishers Weekly

"The perfect book to curl up with on a chilly fall day, The Hidden People will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up."

"The story was compelling, the characters interesting and complex, and it was an evocative novel that's going to have a solid place of my bookshelves from now on. Definitely recommended for those who are looking for something beyond typical urban fantasy fare, for those who enjoy historical fiction, and also, for those like me who have a soft spot for genre-breaking fiction that leaves you hungry for more."—Bibliotropic

"those wanting to observe how subtle psychological horror can be, how the deepest fears can be contained in the smallest of actions, and that the gothic novel is still incredibly powerful even in these modern times, this is the book for them."—Starburst Magazine

"the story is utterly atmospheric, full of the kind of beautiful, exquisite detail that slowly creeps up on you. Littlewood also writes wonderfully and has a flair for bringing a historical setting to life."—The Bibliosanctum

"incredibly well thought out and put together... fantastic characters and plot"—Roadside Reader

Praise for Alison Littlewood

The Bookseller Editor's Choice

"Littlewood's fiction is set in a world where the possible and the improbable rub shoulders, and strange stuff creeps through the gaps in out of the way places. She is the real deal, a writer with a unique vision."—TTA Press (about Path of Needles)

"[Alison Littlewood's A Cold Season] was a career defining masterpiece that exuded chills and almost.... hurt, in a frightening way. Hands down one of the year's greatest novels, it was the perfect debut and the ideal introduction to a welcoming worldwide audience . . . [She] may have had the most impact on the genre this year."—Matt Molgaard, Horror Novel Review (for A Cold Season)

"[A Cold Season] builds a real sense of foreboding and dread, which creates a chilling reading experience for fans of demonic and religious horror."—Library Journal (for A Cold Season)

"Trails of corpses, not bread crumbs, lead to terror in this captivating, psychologically complex hybrid of magical realism and police procedural . . . Crisp pacing and assured prose lend authenticity to a self-referential thriller that questions our values and the stories that define us."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review, for Path of Needles)

"meticulously imagined"—Seattle Review of Books

"beautifully atmospheric. It's not so much shock-and-awe jump-scare horror as a slow, creeping buildup of wrongness that she creates by subtly weaving together details"—SFRevu

Kirkus Reviews
When a young woman is brutally murdered, her urbane cousin plans to debunk superstition and find out what really happened. But Yorkshire in the 1800s is a rather mysterious, suggestive place, and soon it’s unclear where the line falls between the supernatural and human cruelty.Recently married and planning to take over his father’s business interests in London, Albie is haunted by word of his cousin Lizzie’s death. And the circumstances—burned by her husband, who thought she was a fairy who had taken his wife’s place—drive him to the village of Halfoak, where the villagers avoid going outside on the night of the full moon for fear they will be bewitched or stolen away. At first, Albie is angry and dismissive of the local superstitions, but when his wife joins him and begins acting strangely, he must reconsider all of his prejudices against the village’s pagan inheritance. A dead baby, an elfin child, a seductive squire’s son, and a tight-lipped parson draw him further into the mystery, and when he finds Lizzie’s journal, the truth becomes apparent. Littlewood (A Cold Silence, 2015, etc.) expertly creates an atmosphere of unease, interestingly tied to Albie’s reading of Wuthering Heights, but Albie's lack of empathy for those around him, and his failure to care for or investigate his own wife’s suffering, instead always casting himself as the victim of her changing character, make him an off-putting character. In the end, it seems to be more a novel of men versus women rather than old ways versus new ways, and female readers should feel uncomfortable about this dichotomy. Suitably strange with a twist, but the misogyny of the main character, true to the time period, is off-putting for a modern audience.

Product Details

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Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

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Meet the Author

Alison Littlewood is the author of A Cold Season, published by Jo Fletcher Books. The novel was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as 'perfect reading for a dark winter's night.' Her second novel, Path of Needles, is a dark blend of fairy tales and crime fiction. Alison's short stories have been picked for the Best Horror of the Year and Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. Alison lives in West Yorkshire, England, with her partner Fergus.

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The Hidden People 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
LuluRoadsideReader 9 months ago
With such a gorgeous cover and an intriguing synopsis, I was super excited to read The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood. Slow to build, the pacing was problematic enough that it knocked the rating down two stars to three. Other than the pacing, the characters and story itself were absolutely fantastic! An amazing mystery that messes with your mind and keeps you wondering what is happening from start to end. The characters were extremely interesting and well developed. The narrator was fantastic and reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s narrators in which they are strong of conviction and slowly begin to wonder if they are slowly giving in to madness or if madness is suddenly invading the real world. Leading him to wonder whether he is going insane is his wife Helena and her erratic behavior. While I know her behavior was altered to make the reader and narrator wonder whether she was herself or a fae changeling, it didn’t seem to make sense at the end, with the explanations given after everything unravels. I can’t go into it further without getting into spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. Mrs. Gomersal is perfect at her role as well, just so well developed and complex. The story itself is great and leaves you as a reader confused and constantly wondering what is happening. Are changelings real? Are they not? What is happening? Then once the reveal happens, everything clicks and you realize what a fool you were for not seeing it earlier. It was incredibly well thought out and put together. Pacing, however, was a big issue for this book. It didn’t pick up for me until around the 50% mark. It was a big hurdle. I kept having to push myself to keep going, telling myself it would pick up. It did, but if I hadn’t stuck with it, I would never have known have great it was in the end. The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood has fantastic characters and plot, but with troubling pacing, it will take a dedicated reader to reach the payoff. // I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title. //
JBronder 9 months ago
Albie Mirralls briefly meets his cousin, Lizzie Higgs, during the 1851 Great Exhibition. There he notes her beautiful voice and quiet demeanor. Years later his father tells him about Lizzie’s death at the hands of her husband. It seems that her husband thought she was a changeling and burned her to death. He is rather upset and becomes obsessed with Lizzie. He travels to Halfoak to figure out what is going on. When he arrives he is appalled that Lizzie has not been buried. Albie moves into Lizzie’s house while he tries to figure out what is really happening. This is a whole new world from what he knows and how the Hidden People play into this town. Albie’s wife decides to join him and it starts to look like she may be a changeling too. Is Albie falling into the same place with the folk lore of the town and area? The Hidden People is wrote similar to stories in the 19th century so it gave the story a gothic feel to it. I also liked the attention to detail of the difference in language from London to Halfoak, details like this made the book even better. I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into this story. It kind of dragged and the over whelming amount of detail just made the book slower. I just kept finding myself reading the same paragraph over and over. I even thought about not finishing the book. But I stuck with it and was rewarded in the end. Please don’t take this the wrong way, the book ends well. It was just not one that flowed well for me. I received The Hidden People from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the book.