Book Review Tuesday: The Shadows by Alex North, The Girls Weekend by Jody German #HorrorSuspense #SupernaturalMystery #WomenSleuths

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHello, friends, and welcome to my first Book Review Tuesday of the New Year. Although I was offline for November and December, I did manage to read several books—not nearly as many as I hoped. I even failed in my Goodreads Challenge this year, only managing 65 of the 70 books I’d hoped to read. That aside, the next few Tuesdays will be devoted to books I devoured at the end of 2020. Let’s get started!


Book cover shows white hand on black background, silhouettes if four people at knuckles of fingers, their shadows stretching to form gaps between the fingersThe Shadows
by Alex North

I became a fan of Alex North after reading his first book. The Whisper Man. When I read about North’s inspiration for The Shadows—the horrid but true-life Slender Man case—I was immediately intrigued. It’s difficult to imagine how the assailants in the Slender Man case could have been motivated to such an atrocious act by an internet forum. North takes that idea and puts his own spin on it, changing the killers from teen girls to teen boys.

The book is told in first person and third person with two timelines, past and present. As a teen, the main character, Paul Adams, was involved with a group of four, led by Charlie Crabtree, an anti-social obsessed with lucid dreaming. Paul breaks ties with the others when Charlie’s behavior becomes fanatical. When a good friend is killed and the death is attributed to Charlie (after which he disappears) Paul is saddled with grief, guilt, and anger. He leaves town at eighteen, hoping to put the tragedy behind him.

Twenty-five years later, another teen is killed, the murder eerily reminiscent of the tragedy in Paul’s past. At the same time, he returns home, needing to deal with his mother’s dementia. The past returns in the form of internet forums devoted to Cratbtree, the old killing, and a sinister cult-like figure known as Red Hands.

North is a good storyteller and he spins a complex tale. I was surprised by the major twists at the end and the tale held my interest. Paul’s POV is delivered in first person in both past and present, while a detective in the present is relayed in third person POV.

I am a fan of books that switch between past and present, and although I enjoyed this book, there were moments that frustrated me. The gaps between past and present often stretched too long. When there was a huge hook ending on a chapter in the past, the stretch to return took too long because of the need for two POVs in the present. By that time, I had forgotten or lost the momentum from the past. Add in lucid dreaming sections, and scenes occasionally became muddled for me.

There was also a storyline that I felt was plodding, but at the end becomes a key element. Brilliant, really. Overall this is a slow burn, and the reader needs to stick with the story. Not as riveting as The Whisper Man, but still an intricately spun tale. I think it may have been better sticking solely with the main plot thread. I generally love complex novels with multiple threads, but in this case, it bogged things down a bit too much.

3.5 Stars rounded up to 4 for review ratings

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Horror Suspense > Supernatural Mystery > Supernatural Thriller


Book cover has lake at night with house in distance, windows blazing with lightThe Girls Weekend
by Jody Gehrman

Several former college friends, now in their thirties, reunite for a weekend at a sprawling estate owned by the most successful of the group. Sadie MacTavish has achieved J.K. Rowling like fame through a series of middle grade novels that were optioned for the big screen. Life with her handsome Scottish husband, and beautiful teen daughter appears idyllic and perfect.

By contrast, June Moody’s boyfriend has just dumped her via text, and she hasn’t become the great American novelist she once envisioned. The last thing she wants to do is spend a weekend with her former frenemy/rival, Sadie, and Sadie’s husband, Ethan, who once proposed marriage to June. But mutual friend, Amy, is expecting a baby, and Sadie is the one throwing the shower.

June joins Sadie and Amy, along with their remaining friends from college–Em and Kimiko. It’s obvious from the get-go Sadie is a control freak who manipulates everyone and everything in her orbit. When she turns up missing after the first night, blood splatter and a broken statue point to foul play.

There are plenty of undercurrents and baggage among the characters. Amy has suffered mental problems most of her life, Kimiko has a fondness for drink and drugs, Em wants to keep something hidden, and Ethan isn’t as devoted as Sadie has led everyone to believe. A landscaper who lives on the property was overheard arguing with Sadie, and her daughter’s boyfriend isn’t well received by mom.

Suspects, much?

This book kept me flipping pages as the relationships between the characters become more detailed, many overlapping as the chapters progress. Watching all the pieces fall into place is a bit like a slo-mo train wreck. I’m usually able to figure out “whodunit” before the end of most mysteries, but my initial guess proved wrong.

As the narrator, June is a relatable character, one it’s easy to get behind, especially when she finds herself the prime suspect due to her previous relationship with Ethan.

Overall, I found the story suspenseful, but at the same time breezy and fast-paced. The writing is exquisite, with many turns of phrase and descriptions that made me stop to soak them in. Highly enjoyable and atmospheric!

5 Stars

Amazon Link
Genre: Amateur Sleuths > Women Sleuths


Thanks for visiting with me today. It’s great to be back sharing reviews again. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

54 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: The Shadows by Alex North, The Girls Weekend by Jody German #HorrorSuspense #SupernaturalMystery #WomenSleuths

    • I love how the covers tie together. If I recall, I think it’s set in and around the same area as The Whisper Man.
      The Girls Weekend used one of my favorite tropes. Now if there’d only been a hurricane or a blizzard too, LOL!

      Like

  1. I have The Whisper Man on my Kindle, but haven’t read it yet. Saw such good reviews for it. The Girls Weekend sounds fantastic! I love a good mystery with a secluded location, a murder, and lots of suspects with motives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the creative cover of The Shadows and am fascinated that Whisper Man is being recommended more than the former. Often the expectations go high when we read one masterpiece but all books of an author can’t reach that level.
    Thank you for sharing two fabulous reviews Mae, I admire your critical eye that encourages me to choose my reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Balroop. Thank you for that awesome comment. I’m glad you find my reviews helpful in choosing what you might like to read. Alex North is an excellent author. The Whisper Man was a riveting novel, The Shadows less so, but I’m still glad I read it. It’s so true that not all books by an author will reach the same level with readers, but that never stops me from going to my auto-buy authors. Happy reading, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The whole Slender Case was horrible, but also astounding in that it could have grown from an Internet forum. I find the whole idea frightening, but it also intrigued me to give The Shadows a try. I was already a fan of North, so toss in a high profile case, and I was all-in. The book was a decent read, just not at the level of The Whisper Man.
      I really did LOVE The Girls Weekend.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jess.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had The Whisper Man on my TBR list for a while. I need to move it up. Sounds like the second book isn’t as intriguing.

    I’ve been considering The Girls Weekend and your review just helped me decide.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so loved (and was creeped out by) The Whisper Man that I couldn’t wait to see what the author came out with next. Then I started reading the reviews, mostly like yours, and I backed away from buying the book. It’s too bad he got ‘lost’ in the dreaming sequences, it sounds as though that was the major downfall with the book.
    Great reviews, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. Interesting. I had no idea other reviewers said the same. The dreaming sequences really sucked the life from the story. Given the blurb, the book should be phenomenal. It still wasn’t bad, and the ending was cleverly done, but so much of the story got bogged down. Like you, I loved The Whisper Man. I’ll still buy Mr. North’s book. 🙂
      Thanks, Jacquie!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. More great reviews, MC. I would add these to my TBR list but it’s already toppling over. And I’m sure you will have more to come for me to read! I do like the layered revelations of The Girls Weekend – reminds me of a mystery game online that I just enjoyed called The Great British Bump Off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh, that game sounds pretty cool, Noelle. I love the kind of set-up/trope that was used for The Girls Weekend. It was an excellent read.
      And I can so relate on the TBR list. If I could only make a dent in mine, I’d feel better, LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was horrified by the real Slender Man case. It’s hard to imagine an internet forum could have done such damage, but then I guess there are many (especially tweens and young teens) with impressionable minds.
      Thanks for the compliment on the reviews, Sue. I enjoy writing them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great reviews, Mae. I can totally believe that internet forums can lead to murder. It gives me the chills. The Shadows sounds like a good thriller despite the pace. The Girls Weekend isn’t something that would typically grab my attention, but your review is tantalizing. Thanks for your recommendations and Happy Reading. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Diana. I’m glad my reviews grabbed you. Even though The Shadows didn’t live up to The Whisper Man, it wasn’t a bad book. I still enjoyed it, and will certainly buy his next title. I positively loved The Girls Weekend. It hit all the right marks for me.
      Very scary what Internet forums can do to impressionable minds. It makes me worry for our young ones.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Miriam. I love books that use dual timelines. That was one of the things that drew me to The Shadows (aside from the author himself). And the girls weekend was great Aside from the plot, the writing itself was engaging,
      Thanks so much for checking out my first Book Review Tuesday of the year!

      Like

    • Hi, Jacqui. Yeah, it’s terrible what cyberbullying can lead to. In many ways I feel bad for kids today because they can’t escape their problems. It’s always there, 24/7 online when they have issues with other kids. So sad. Here’s hoping and praying kids will embrace kindness instead of bullying!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not up to The Whisperman, Kim, but it’s still a good book. I just think the author could have tightened it to make it better. If you do read it, I’ll be interested to see your review and get your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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