“The Shadows” by Alex North
Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller
You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.
Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.
It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.
It wasn’t just the murder.
It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…
I’ve slowly discovered I’m quite fond of this ‘quiet’ type of horror. The Shadows isn’t in your face scary. It’s unsettling. It’s gruesome at time. It flirts with the idea of other worldly. But it also stays grounded in reality. Truthfully, that’s the scariest bit. Monsters, ghosts, insert other creature can be scary to read about but they’re not terrifying because they’re not real. Humans are by far more terrifying.
North is able to nail the terrifying child trope with Charlie Crabtree. The synopsis isn’t lying when it said you knew someone like Charlie. That person on the fringe of society who knew how to manipulate and would do anything for what they wanted. I was able to picture him perfectly as well as that terror that Paul felt watching the story play out. I felt the stress of not knowing how to stop the actions set in place.
The story was fantastic. Perfectly paced. I didn’t want to stop reading. The groundwork is laid so well. I almost want to go back and reread to see how I missed some of the twists. Oh boy, those twists. I’m still trying to wrap my head around them.
North is really shaping up to be an author for me to watch. I can’t wait to read more from him.