Hidden Evils by Jo TannahRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Sebastian Torres was raised by his aunt after he was found alone as a baby when his parents disappeared. Following a less than conventional upbringing, he is now a midwife. To Sebastian, this is more a vocation than a job and though he loves his work, personally he only has his three dogs for company after a series of first dates gone bad.

Anthony Craig is head of OB-GYN at the hospital where Sebastian works. The two men have been secretly attracted to one another for some time, but it is Anthony who finds the courage to ask Sebastian out. Despite Sebastian thinking this is just another one-date wonder, the connection between the men is undeniable.

But whilst Sebastian’s love life is on the up, he is alerted by eight premature births in one night at the hospital, quickly followed by a news report of the deaths of five pregnant women — their babies all missing. The police are looking for a serial killer, but Sebastian believes the perpetrator is something far darker and more dangerous. However, in order to defeat it, he will have to reveal the truth of who he is to Anthony and risk losing him.

Hidden: Evils is a paranormal, urban fantasy with horror elements and Jo Tannah cleverly builds the suspense of her story. A good example of this is the two occasions where the narrative changes from third person to first. It is here that the creature speaks. Not only does this give the reader a real sense of the creature’s evil, but we are aware that during these moments Sebastian and his friends are being watched — and we know that they are in danger.

Hidden: Evils does not have the consistently fast pace that a reader may expect from a novel in this genre. Yet, the changes in pace worked well for me, particularly because Tannah spends time building her characters and their relationships during the story’s slower times.
Sebastian and Anthony’s relationship is an important focus of Hidden: Evils, but instead of being a distraction, this provides a relief from the tension. Both men are healers in their own right and whilst Anthony is pragmatic and obsessively neat, Sebastian is open and instinctual. Tannah still manages to communicate a sense that this relationship will work though and that these two meant to be together. This is mainly supported by the way in which Anthony is the first man since the “transfer” to want a second date with Sebastian and when they accidentally bump into a man Sebastian met once, he appears to be scared. We believe in this relationship despite the doubt about their future that Sebastian’s revelations create. The fact that Anthony is accepting of everything Sebastian tells him only compounds their love for one another and Anthony becomes a surprisingly strong ally.

I think Tannah’s approach to the story of Sebastian’s heritage is unusual. Generally, I find that authors detail their characters and social history at the beginning of the story, allowing the reader to know the individual completely. Here, in Hidden: Evils, Tannah gives subtle clues about Sebastian in the early chapters, for example, his preoccupation with the eight births and his rush to contact his aunts. It is then not until just over halfway through the novel that Sebastian tells his story in full. Though my curiosity was piqued and I wanted to rush to know more, I also think Tannah’s tactic added to the suspense.

Hidden: Evils is a riveting read, made more original because Tannah draws on folklore from her home country with which her reader may not be familiar. I look forward to the next installment of the Hidden series and would recommend this to fans of the genre.

kirsty sig