The House of Hidden Secrets
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
The House of Hidden Secrets is the first book I’ve read by C.E. Rose, a new author to me. The setting is a quiet country estate in a small village in the UK. Serena has accepted a position taking care of an older man, who has fallen, Hayden.
He has two middle-aged sons, Jack and Hugh, and his wife died many years ago. While Hugh seems disconnected and simple, Jack seems angry.
There are secrets in the house which are alluded to in the first chapter.
We learn Serena, who has arrived with her 4yo daughter Lana, is hiding from her abusive husband. Hugh’s best friend has arrived from Australia, with secrets of his own. And Jack, the oldest, who has just been promoted to a prominent position within the courts, seems bitter towards Serena with no obvious reason. Hayden, while at first welcoming, grows more mysterious and threatening as time moves on with Serena as his caretaker. While his actions appear precise and non-threatening, there is also an edge which can’t be ignored.
Jack is as mysterious as Hugh and Hayden, and Serena falls deeply in love with him. Though the reader is never quite sure if Jack’s character is quite what it seems, a successful attorney with the best intentions towards Serena and Lana. I think Jack is the most interesting character in The House of Hidden Secrets. Though the secrets of the manor are not revealed until the last 25% of the novel, this book is a very slow burn. Another thing I found interesting in this book is Hugh’s relationship with Hayden. While Hugh’s “simple” way of thinking is never explained in the book, his thoughts and perspective on different situations are fascinating. There is a deep chasm in his relationship with his Father, which is revealed later on in the book, when Serena realizes that all is not what it seems with this family.
As a reader, I always find it fascinating reading about other cultures. Especially their takes on different situations, such as homosexuality or domestic violence. While it may seem disconnecting for the reader, realizing that for some parts of the world, homosexuality is a deep sin, I find interesting and the connection to the characters, stronger. There are parts of this novel that C.E. Rose has left vague, though I think that was her intention. It is also heavy with British dialect which can be off-putting to readers who are not from that country.
The House of Hidden Secrets is well plotted and keeps the reader interested and wanting to read more. All the characters are multidimensional. While the reveals at the end are surprising, they are not shocking. I am always excited when I find a new author to read and I look forward to more of her books.