July 5, 2020
The Shadows by Alex North
Two teenagers committed a murder, then went to sleep, believing they’d disappear. One of them did. Now, 25 years later, a couple of teenagers are trying to achieve the same thing. Detective Amanda is on the case, looking into the old case for answers to this one. Meanwhile, Paul, friends with the original murderers and the victim, returns home for his sick mom. The past is coming back to haunt him.
This book is from the same author as The Whisper Man. I didn’t read The Whisper Man first, and you don’t really need to because this is a separate story, just with the same detective. Detective Amanda mentions the Whisper Man case, but mostly just how she felt during it, and doesn’t give anything away about it. After reading this book, I need to go back and read The Whisper Man, just as anyone who enjoyed The Whisper Man will surely enjoy this one as well!
This book made me feel like I was reading a memoir, with another story intertwined. Paul’s perspective is in first person, switching between now and before of 25 years ago, then Detective Amanda’s perspective is third person. Even though Paul’s perspective will switch, even within chapters, it doesn’t get confusing which time period is being told. The beginning of chapters will say “Now” or “Before” to signify if Paul is telling what is happening now, or if he is recalling events from years ago. Mostly the book tells the story of now, with flashbacks of before that correlate to what’s happening now. The before/flashbacks help to give background information on how Paul came to know the people involved in the murder, and events leading up to the murder.
The teenagers who commit the murder have been practicing lucid dreaming. The story is intriguing in a way that makes you want to try lucid dreaming, to see if it works like they say it does, but also terrifying in that it makes you scared to go to sleep and afraid to dream by what they encounter and achieve.
This book is the epitome of “just one more chapter”. I literally couldn’t stop reading. This was probably the quickest I’ve read a book in a long time, just because I needed to know what happens next. It didn’t help that just about each chapter ends on a cliffhanger, leaving you in suspense.
Without spoiling anything in this section, I just need to say that the ending was really good! Endings of scary movies and books can really make it or break it. I felt like this ending had some unexpected twists, but gives you closure.
This is a magnificent mystery thriller! It leaves you wondering what’s real, and what’s all a dream...
I won an ARC of this book from Bookish First. It’s set to release July 7th, so keep yours eyes open for it!
The biggest twist in this story was who died 25 years ago. The story brings you to believe James was the one murdered. The entire time I read the book, I felt sorry for James because I thought he died, I even thought I read that he was the one murdered in the beginning. Once I found out who died, I went back to the beginning of the book to reread the prologue because I was so confused and convinced he was who died. When the police officer said it was Jenny, I was in shock. I was also confused because Paul had talked to her. He had drinks with her a couple of times at the bar, and walked her to a coffee shop. Then you find out that Paul used lucid dreaming to visit with her. Finding this out answered some questions.
Other questions of this mystery were answered when Paul talked to James’s stepdad and found Charlie’s notebook. It was cleared up that Charlie was trying to set up James and Paul from the beginning, rewriting the same “dream” into his notebook every day until it coincided with James. This showed that some of the lucid dreaming wasn’t real, just Charlie making them dream those things by also taking the boys out into the woods. However, this still leaves you to wonder about Red Hands being real. Of course your dreams are a manifestation of your subconscious, your brain sorting through your thoughts, so instances like Paul seeing Red Hands in the school basement while dreaming could have just been an actual dream. It isn’t stated though if Charlie truly did do things while lucid dreaming, or if he did things while awake and just said that he was dreaming, like hurting the teacher’s dog and knocking on James’s door. So there is still the creepy element at the end that events in dreams might influence reality.
The ending was really good, though, because most of the scary things were easily explained. Charlie made things up to make the others believe. James’s stepdad dressed as Red Hands to try to scare Paul. Charlie didn’t actually disappear after committing the murder. Finally, the recent murders were committed by a father whose son was killed based on Charlie’s influence. Having everything explained leaves you with the feeling of closure, that there isn’t some evil spirit out there lurking.
I loved the thrill and suspense of the creepy mystery, and loved how this story came to an end. Also, the way the ending was, it leaves the story as potentially written by Paul, that he finally found a story to write.
“That it was something that had dragged itself out of the depths of the Shadows to visit me, and was now returning to its home among the trees.”
“Places are like people. They have to know where they came from - and where they are now - or else they’ll never know where they’re going.”
“As you get older, it all begins to blur into one. You start to think life was never any kind of straight line. It was always more of a...scribble.”
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