The Watchers: A.M. Shine
Reviewed By Steve Stred
I honestly don’t recall how this came to my attention. It might’ve been Gavin, here at KR, shared a photo of the book on Twitter, or fellow KR member, Simon, was raving about it, or it was on a folklore list of books, but no matter, when this one got on my radar, I snagged it immediately and threw it to the top of my TBR.
This has all of the hallmarks of what I love to read and I’m beyond pleased to say that Shine delivers on each element and masterfully, I might add.
What I liked: The story starts out simply enough. Mina is a 30-something-year-old woman who lives her life how she wants, much to the chagrin of her mother and sister. When her friend, Peter, offers her a job to deliver a tropical bird to a buddy of his, and makes $200 while doing it, it’s a no brainer.
But alas, this is dark fiction, and you can bet your rear end (what a lame choice for wording, but if I said what I wanted this review would get flagged from Amazon!) that something goes wrong.
When Mina arrives at the edge of an odd forest, her car stops working. Then she hears strange sounds as night arrives and she spends the night in her car. The next morning, with the birdcage in hand, she starts off, thinking she’ll just walk through to the other side.
Shine does a great job of giving this opening section an aloof air. A ‘all is right and no worries’ feeling, as Mina walks along, enjoying the tranquillity of nature. That all changes when she spots a light, is told to run, and her life changes forever after.
I loved the mystery and intrigue that is set up and as she meets a few other survivors, in this odd viewing home that has been made in the middle of nowhere, we get a riveting creature feature, but also a really well done psychological horror story.
Lastly, I’ll add – because this thing goes to so many places you’ll never expect (even if you think you’ve predicted events), the ending is amazing. Like, had me stunned and smiling that Shine decided to go there and give us this terrifying ending. Loved it.
What I didn’t like: You know, the only thing that really annoyed me, was that Mina made her way in (just in time) over a day, but for some reason they never tried backtracking her hike in and making it back to where her car broke down. It seemed like such an obvious option, but if they’d done that the book wouldn’t go where it went, so there’s that haha!
Why you should read this: This novel had the same urgency and blind fear that was offered up in ‘Bird Box’ by Josh Malerman. That pulse-pounding knowledge that each night, when the light clicks on, the creatures will be back, and Shine makes sure to lead us along with a tiny bit of hope from chapter to chapter. It works so well and has crafted a truly amazing, and creepy, folklore based, creature feature.
Loved this one so much!
You can’t see them. But they can see you.
This forest isn’t charted on any map. Every car breaks down at its treeline. Mina’s is no different. Left stranded, she is forced into the dark woodland only to find a woman shouting, urging Mina to run to a concrete bunker. As the door slams behind her, the building is besieged by screams.
Mina finds herself in a room with a wall of glass, and an electric light that activates at nightfall, when the Watchers come above ground. These creatures emerge to observe their captive humans and terrible things happen to anyone who doesn’t reach the bunker in time.
Afraid and trapped among strangers, Mina is desperate for answers. Who are the Watchers and why are these creatures keeping them imprisoned, keen to watch their every move?
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak fiction.
Steve is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters (Tim Lebbon, Gemma Amor, Adrian J. Walker, Ramsey Campbell) in some fantastic anthologies.
He is an active member of the HWA.
He is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife and son.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here