Book Review: The Shadows by Alex North

The Shadows by Alex North

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… 

My Rating: Four and a Half Stars ★★★★1/2

I read and reviewed this book through the new audiobook feature on Netgalley! Despite my ratio being low due to some recent approvals, I wanted to try and start reviewing audiobooks and found this one in the Listen Now section on Netgalley. I was thrilled to find it there considering I had already been looking forward to reading it!

The Shadows is a marvelous thriller. I have not read The Whisper Man but knew I had to go ahead and listen to The Shadows while it was on Listen Now. The concept is unique and intriguing. Instantly, the story drew me in and kept my attention the entire time. The atmosphere, while not quite creepy, held a sense of foreboding. The idea of lucid dreaming and potentially being able to go beyond just lucidity was fascinating. I was constantly questioning what was real and true.

While reading, we alternate between three different POVs/time periods. The first is Paul’s teenage years and the events leading up to the murder (the “then”). The second is Paul in the present coming back to town for the first time due to his mother’s ill health. Last, we have Amanda, who is a detective investigating a copycat murder based on the killing of Paul’s childhood friend. This leads me to my biggest complaint about the novel: Amanda’s POV felt unnecessary most of the time. I would be drawn in and engrossed in Paul’s POVs and would think to myself “oh yeah, her” whenever Amanda’s chapters came around. I did enjoy her as a character and liked the role she played within the story, but having her POV did not add anything necessary that could not have been explained elsewhere. I have not seen any other reviews that convey this complaint, so it may just be me who holds this opinion.

I loved that I genuinely did not know what had happened or was happening until it was revealed. Each twist shocked me but made complete sense within the story (even if one, in particular, left me devastated). Thankfully, I found the ending satisfying, answering enough questions and avoiding being underwhelming.

When it comes to the production of the audiobook, I thought both of the narrators were excellent. They represented their characters well and provided stellar performances. Throughout my listening experience, I noted a robotic sound to their voices multiple times, though I am not sure if this is an issue with the audiobook itself or Netgalley Shelf as it is a new app.

I have seen in many reviews that readers prefer North’s debut, The Whisper Man, over The Shadows, claiming it is the better novel. If this is true, I cannot wait to read it as The Shadows was nothing short of fantastic.


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