New Review: The Hideaway by Pam Smy

Expect the unexpected with this beautifully illustrated and moving tale by award-winning author-illustrator, Pam Smy. The Hideaway, published by Pavilion, highlights the torment felt by a child watching his mother suffer at the hands of an abusive step-father, but also celebrates the power of love, remembrance and family bonds.

The Hideaway by Pam Smy

One rain-lashed autumn night, Billy can’t stand the fighting any longer. He packs a bag and slips ghost-like into the dark. His hiding place is a cold and gloomy graveyard and soon something mysterious and magical starts to happen….

Atmospheric and compelling, The Hideaway is a middle-grade story that will make you feel to you core. Domestic violence in family situations is all too real, and this dual narrative story is told from Billy’s perspective, as he finally reaches the end of his rope and runs away; and Billy’s mother, as she realises the cause of Billy’s disappearance and the police are called. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional turmoil for both Billy and his mother, which is expertly handled in the gentle but unwavering narrative.

Thankfully, even in the darkest of moments, life has a way of showing you something new. Billy is not alone in the graveyard and he meets an elderly man who is cleaning and tidying the graves for a very special, supernatural event. His kindness to Billy is just what is needed to restore some of Billy’s faith in people, as Billy joins in with clearing the graveyard. And Billy’s mother finds that there are people who can help in her hour of greatest need; she just has to ask.

As the story progresses, both Billy and his mother must confront their fears and make choices that will decide their future happiness. When the night arrives that the old man and Billy have been preparing the graves for, the narrative and illustrations transport you to a place of hope and wonder; of family and memory and most importantly, love, reminding Billy how loved he is by his mum and just how much he loves her.

The Hideaway is an important story beautifully told and illustrated, with challenging themes but full of hope. Highly recommended, I would not be surprised to see this on awards shortlists in the coming months.

Find out more at With thanks to Pavilion for sending me this book to review.

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