Book Review: The Shadows by Alex North (ALC)

The Shadows

Author: Alex North

Narrator: Hannah Arterton & John Heffernan

Publication Date: 07 July 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Thriller

Length: 9 hours 5 minutes

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

The haunting new thriller from Alex North, author of the New York Times bestseller The Whisper Man

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…

Before I even get this review started, I will make one thing very clear. I LOVED The Whisper Man when it debuted by Alex North last summer. It felt like a fresh take on murder mystery thrillers that also left you questioned the things that leered within the shadows. Because of that, I had HIGH expectations of The Shadows, and this sophomore novel failed to deliver that same shock and awe.

25 years ago, a group of teenage boys took part in a ritualistic type murder. One of the murderers, Paul Adams was caught. One of the murderers, Charlie Crabtree, managed to disappear without a trace and therefore never being apprehended in this reprehensible crime. With Paul’s mother’s health on the decline, he has to return home to the scene of the crime, and to make matters worse, there’s a copycat killer imitating Charlie’s crime.

I was immediately drawn to the book because of the lucid dreams. I found the whole premise behind it both exciting and terrifying (think Nightmare on Elm Street). There were definitely a few creepy moments especially when it came to the Dream Diary, but they didn’t pack quite the same punch as those in The Whisper Man.

Since this story takes place in both the past and present and these timelines both offer different characters, I found myself struggling to keep track of what was happening to whom and why. I did the audio for this one, and I definitely had to go back and re-listen to entire chapters at a time. I think the sheer amount of characters made it difficult to really gravitate towards any one voice since they didn’t have as much depth. I ultimately think that my confusion is what ultimately detracted from the execution this book was going for.

Overall, I think The Shadows is a fast read/listen and does offer some of that creepiness that we’ve come to love from Alex North. While this one wasn’t my favorite, I do look forward his next release.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing an advanced listening copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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