the shadows alex north
Alex North / Book Review / Reviews with Spoilers

Alex North | The Shadows

the shadows alex north

The Book: 

The Shadows by Alex North, 2020

The Characters: 

Paul and his friends James and Jenny
Billy and Charlie, boys who befriend them

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Get it on Amazon.

The Plot (from Goodreads):

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…

Click here for book spoilers for The Shadows
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Shadows, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

James and Charlie are half brothers. Mr. Red Hands is their father–he had slit his wrists in the woods when his wife kicked him out for cheating on her. 

Charlie and Billy killed Jenny. They had planned to kill James, but Paul warned James so he left. They were angry and killed Jenny instead. Charlie had fooled Billy and James into thinking they had shared dreams by placing ideas in their minds and writing the same dream down over and over until they dreamt it too.

Paul had been dreaming of Jenny when he “saw” her as an adult. The lucid dreaming part was real.

Carl, James’s stepdad, comes to find Paul one day and tells him his side of the story. The day that Paul warned James that Charlie was going to kill him, James went home and confronted his mother about who his real father was. Charlie showed up at their house and attacked James’s mother. In her defense, James killed Charlie. Carl hid Charlie’s body, and years later he told Paul’s mother about it. 

In present day, Billy, James, and James’s mother are all murdered in their homes.

The Ending:

Paul is attacked by the same man murdering his former friends. It turns out to be the father of one of the victims of the copycat murders. (The copycat murders were just that–people reading about the case on the internet and believing that Charlie’s sacrifice let him escape into the dream world). Paul leads him into the woods, gets him lost, and manages to escape. 

I am pleased that all of the supernatural elements had real-world explanations. I don’t like when thrillers pretend not to be paranormal but then rely on paranormal themes to explain the ending! (This happened in another book I read recently…if you know you know. So annoying!)

The Review: 

Alright, this lucid dreaming premise is growing on me. When I read Behind Her Eyes I wasn’t a fan because I was kind of blindsided by it, but this book was more on the Home Before Dark side of supernatural. I enjoyed it a lot more knowing what I was getting into when I started the book.

I loved The Shadows! It was the perfect amount of creepy and suspenseful that makes a great thriller. The atmosphere was A+. The premise of adult Paul coming back to confront boyhood trauma gave me In The Woods vibes, which was another favorite of mine.

Charlie was the perfect creepy antagonist–there’s just something about children like that that is absolutely haunting!

My only issue with the plot would be a major spoiler if I shared it here, so I’ll keep it to myself.

Click here for book spoilers for The Shadows
I get that no one mentioned James because we were supposed to think he had died instead of Jenny, but in a real investigation his name would have been brought up right alongside Billy’s. This bothered me more than it should have.

I haven’t read The Whisper Man yet, so of course I am eager to get to that now! I didn’t realize they were in the same universe, or I would have read that one first. It doesn’t appear to have mattered, though.

the shadows alex north

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