The Monsters in our Shadows by Edward J Cembal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was a bit of a stretch for me as the horror/sci-fi genre is not typically a favorite. That said, the blurb looked like enough of an interesting take to make it with the effort. To set the stage, we have a ruined apocalyptic landscape with enclaves of humans behind walled communities scrambling to survive. From the shadows, a terrifying creature (aka Shivers) emerges that haunts a specific person for a time until its hunger becomes to much prevent it from literally eating its host and if not “exiled” outside of the protective walls by then, going on a rampage devouring anybody else nearby. While there are some obvious analogies and symbolism from these shadow horrors, my interest was more on the basic story that follows Anthem, the city "Exilist" (aka The Reaper) who was responsible for making sure the afflicted were “escorted” out through the city walls into the deadlands before the Shiver goes nuts. Having a Shiver is always a death sentence … it is only a matter of time.
Anthem has a daughter … and his own Shiver, so the clock is ticking to find the truth. Does the Architect (ruler of the City of Atlas) have the answers? Maybe that is why not a single member of that family has ever been “exiled.” Or maybe the truth is outside the walls in the Deadlands. There is a mystery here (and a dark secret); however, you can’t figure it out on your own, so you are left to the whims each tantalizing encounter that keeps Anthem's apocalyptic "hero's journey" from being completely hopeless. If you enjoyed The Road, this story is probably right up your alley. Truthfully it is the end that makes this any good for me, with the obvious nod to depression and the hope contained therein; however, as mentioned above … this was not for me, so I am rounding my final score up.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.