Alex North's The Shadows doesn't stick | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Alex North's The Shadows doesn't stick

The boys in Alex North's sophomore novel, The Shadows, are what nightmares are made of (literally).

Broken into two timelines, The Shadows follows a group of teenagers - Charlie, Billy, Paul, and James - as they start to dabble in lucid dreaming, and alternately an adult Paul 25 years later as he returns to the town where he grew up. As a teen, Charlie is a methodical bully who introduces the group to lucid dreaming. But this isn't the fun, light-hearted kind of lucid dreaming where you make yourself fly or something. Charlie has a dark, twisted imagination, and he likes to meet a faceless man in the dreams that lives in the desolate woods known as the Shadows behind their houses. Right away you learn that Billy and Charlie murder someone because that mysterious man told them to, and Billy is arrested while Charlie vanishes and is never seen again.

The adult Paul has returned home to assist his elderly mother in hospice. Once in town, he finds out that there has been a copycat murder. Two teens have been arrested for killing one of their classmates in the same with Billy and Charlie did. This brings up all the awful feelings and memories Paul has been trying to put in the past, and something just doesn't feel right, someone is following Paul. He's sure of it.

I enjoyed reading the book, but it took me an extremely long to put my thoughts together about it because it's hard to talk about the novel without giving any spoilers, and it didn't really stick with me. I feel like this book is going to get a ton of hype because North's previous book The Whisper Man was extremely well-received (it made me a fan of his), but I felt it could have been fleshed out a little more. It's not a book I will go back to or reread, but I won't say it was a waste of time to read.

It's not necessary to read North's first novel, The Whisper Man, before diving into The Shadows, but it takes place in the same small town of Featherbank and the detective on the case, Amanda Beck, is also from the first novel.

Read The Shadows if:
You enjoyed the story of Slenderman.
Are a fan of fictional true-crime.
Can focus on interweaving timelines and perspectives (it can be confusing at times if you don't pay attention).
Like a mystery with many twists and turns.

The Shadows is out July 7 via Celadon Books

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