Generally my tastes in horror lean toward monsters, both supernatural monsters like zombies and real world monsters like, well, humans. I love my zombies and I love me some extreme horror and splatterpunk. Give me all the gore!
However, every once in a while I pick up a book or one by an author I’ve seen highly recommended in one of the many bookish online communities that I follow. Something thematically different than my usual favorites. A.M. Shine is one such author. You may recognize him from his earlier work, The Watchers, which is also on my staggeringly long TBR.
This one took me a minute to get into, as it is somewhat of a slow burner and I tend to prefer a faster pace. But much like that children’s tale of the tortoise and the rabbit, slow and steady wins the race. This is the story of a pair of researchers, Ben and Chloe, who are hired by an old eccentric to visit the village from which the superstition of a monster called the creeper originates. They make the trip and are warned off, but allowed to stay for one day on the condition that they conclude interviews by dark and leave the following morning. Ben makes an earnest attempt at learning the origins of the story from the village folk and feels like he’s failed due to the villagers’ unwillingness to talk, until he and Chloe are visited by a child as they’re getting ready to settle in for the night before leaving in the morning.
The author was really good about including little details, both about the legend and events as they are happening, to tie everything together. He left no big glaring loose ends. And if you’re a skeptic like Ben and myself, the ending and epilogue are quite satisfying. My one gripe is that maybe the build up was a bit too slow burning. There were some slightly creepy things early on, but it didn’t get truly terrifying for Ben and Chloe until about halfway through the book. By then I was definitely on the edge of my seat, right up until we get to the twist. And at that point, the reader is resigned to their fate same as Ben is resigned to his.
Solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read for me. Before the twist, it would have been one star lower. It is well written, but there are some things my brain just isn’t frightened by. So the ending was pretty satisfying. Was it scary? I didn’t think so. But it was suspenseful and had lots of creepy parts that kept me engaged and rooting for the unlucky researchers. Highly recommend adding it to your spooky season reading list.
Big thanks to A.M. Shine, Head of Zeus, and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy The Creeper, by A.M. Shine on Amazon for a couple bucks, or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.