Review: The Shadows by Alex North

NetGalley Cover of The Shadows by Alex North

Date Started: 18th July 2020
Date Finished: 22nd July 2020
Days Taken to Read (Listen): 5 days

Audio-ARC received from NetGalley and Macmillan Audio, in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“It was my mother who took me to the police station.”

The Shadows is an adult mystery/thriller with lingering supernatural tones. Told from two perspectives, Detective Amanda Beck is trying to investigate a horrifying murder, when she finds links to a crime that occurred 25 years before. Determined to investigate further she travels to the small town of the original crime and investigate those with any knowledge/involvement.

Paul Adams was a teenager 25 years ago when the original murder happened and knew those involved as ex-friends. One of the perpetrators, Charlie Crabtree, disappeared immediately after the crime and has never been heard from again. Having claimed a mysterious entity from the dream world would reward him for a ritual price.

Firstly, can I just say how much I love this cover? I know we’re always advised to never judge a book by one, but a good cover can be an easy way to lure potential readers in, and I feel like artist and publisher made a fantastic choice with this one.

Without spoiling too much of the plot, I enjoyed how the author managed to interweave two perspectives, plus a historic and contemporary timeline for Paul’s character. (Although as a result, this definitely meant we heard more of Paul’s voice over Amanda’s). I also felt that whilst a few elements could be guess, there were enough red herrings dotted throughout and a few occasions when a twist appeared out of nowhere. One of which I really hadn’t seen coming, and had I been reading a physical book, I would have flipped back to see how I hadn’t seen it coming.

The supernatural themes were well crafted into the story. Because they were mainly based around dreaming and lucid dreams, it added a level of ‘other-ness’ that I did find unnerving and that added to the mystery and threat of helping a teenage boy vanish after committing a ritualistic crime. I spent the majority of the story trying to work out what was and wasn’t real, which was ultimately quite satisfying once the conclusion was revealed.

As an audiobook, the narrators have to be considered, Paul voiced by John Heffernan and Amanda voiced by Hannah Arterton. Both narrator’s voices brought the extra dimension to the character. I preferred Amanda’s narrator as I felt she was slightly more expressive and emotive throughout to keep me hooked. But Paul’s voice brought a level of heaviness that matched the character. I would listen to an audiobook with either narrator again, which I believe is always a positive response.

There were a few occasions where a scene felt overlong when listening and I wanted them to move on (perhaps why I liked Amanda’s voice more as it came less often and tended to be more investigation focused). Additionally at times there were a few too many convenient twists or characters all in the same location. But ultimately I was satisfied with the mystery and felt what needed resolving had been covered. Definitely would recommend this in either audio or physical formats.

TLDR? A thrilling mystery where you second guess whether the supernatural played a part in a teenagers death, and enough full to put you off attempting lucid dreaming for life.

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