The Shadows // Slender Man-esque thriller

Full disclosure: I read the spoilers about a third into this book to determine if it was going to be too terrifying or waste my time. Book of the Month books are usually pretty mellow, though, so I shouldn’t have wondered about the former as much as I did.

I also just didn’t want to read an entire book that was going to drone on and on about murder and then retcon shit to please Common Sense Media, even though it’s not a kid’s book.

As I’ve explained, reading spoilers allows me to relish in how something happens instead of trying to rack my brain during the whole thing to figure out what is going to happen.

All in all, it makes for a more enjoyable read.

The ShadowsThe Shadows by Alex North
Published by Book of the Month, Celadon Books on 7 July, 2020
Genre: Contemporary, Crime, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
# pages: 366
Source: Book of the Month
Rating: ★★★★

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 was disappointed in one of the reveals, having learned something about a particular character being alive and another one being dead. I thought it was opposite.
    • One was not brought up at all because of this, but they would have been brought up in a real investigation repeatedly — and that irked me. It made the crime aspect of the novel (which is really the entire thing) fall short of believable.
  • Paul’s POV being in first-person and Amanda’s being in third makes zero sense to me.
  • I think it could have ended before the last two chapters on a cliffhanger and been superb. It would’ve been annoying. It would’ve left everything up to the reader. The 43rd chapter high-key bothered me because I didn’t care about Amanda at all. I think it’s because a man was writing her in a way that was obviously emotional as opposed to potentially feeling indifferent. She didn’t have much substance to her.
    • That said, I was impressed the author gave Paul some oomph, filling a grown man with little boy fear courtesy of trauma. It made a make character actually likeable for me.
  • A few things lack explanation, like how they supposedly imposed harm via their dreams. If that was supposed to be presumed between the lines, I definitely did not get that because my brain isn’t wired for it. I would rather author spell that shit out instead of just expecting everyone in the audience to understand it, but for some reason it’s got a negative connotation that uneducated people don’t read between the lines.

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