Piper Holly is an average teenage girl living life in the late 1970s. She’s adjusting to a new school in small-town Texas, putting academics before the school play. She has crushes, a circle of friends, and a decent family life. She also has strange dreams in which she’s not herself: dreams of a woman living the high life in the 1920s before taking her own life decades later. These dreams have become more frequent since her move, and especially since visiting the exact house that appears in her dreams. As THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN continues, Piper finds herself in the perfect company to begin unraveling this mystery. A TV parapsychologist is in town looking for mysteries to cover, and this potential case of reincarnation is right up his alley. Together, they begin digging into the past of the murderess that Piper allegedly once was. But the deeper they dig, the more Piper begins to lose herself—and the story becomes a battle for Piper’s soul.
Samuel Miles Morley’s THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN contains shades of many stories before it. William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist is a clear inspiration for later chapters, as men of the cloth begin to intervene. Most of the book rests on the mystery of what exactly is going on with Piper in the first place. Was she really a murderess in her past life? What does this mean for her now? This story, particularly Piper’s personal journey to regain normalcy in her high school life, is where the book shines. Taken as a whole, though, the book can be a bit muddled. While the twist in the tale is intriguing and keeps the story from being overly predictable, it does necessitate a bit more explanation than the reader ends up receiving. The messaging concerning the involvement of the Church seems to change mid-story, too. If anything, the story would have been at its strongest if it had kept to the straight-and-narrow rather than attempting to subvert the path it was on. The segments with Piper’s past life regression, her own attempts to care for herself after the situation worsens, and the moral dilemma of whether or not to allow this to proceed are the strongest and most fascinating aspects of the book. Overall, THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN succeeds when it is looking straight ahead with its story. As soon as it starts to get clever, it loses much of the charm it’s built up. However, this doesn’t prevent it from being a captivating read—just one that leaves the reader wishing for a bit more by the end.
In THAT WHICH IS HIDDEN, Samuel Miles Morley digs into modern folklore and fears in an intriguing take on the paranormal horror genre.
~Kara Dennison for IndieReader