The Creeper: A.M. Shine
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Much like his first novel, ‘The Watchers,’ A.M. Shine returns us to a phenomenally horrifying location. While this isn’t a sequel in any way, shape or form, it is a thematic companion piece. Something in the woods that is waiting and lurking.
Look, if you’ve read any of my own work, you’ll know my love of writing about the wilds and odd things that live within. Also, if you’ve followed my reviews, you’ll know my love of reading about things that go bump in the trees. ‘The Ritual’ by Adam Nevill, ‘The Homecoming’ by Andrew Pyper, ‘Those Who Came Before’ by JH Moncrieff, and of course, Matt Wesolowski’s ‘Six Stories’ series. Add in Shine’s debut and you have yourself a solid batch of books to really prevent you from ever stepping foot in the wilderness.
Where Shine… uh… shines here, is the added layer of creepiness, which I’ll discuss in a moment. I’ve mentioned recently my love of reading books that could fall into the ‘archeological horror’ movement and this one would sit firmly within that category, fighting for the crown.
What I liked: The story follows a reclusive rich man, who hires two professionals, fresh out of university, to head to a remote town, cut off from the outside world. There, he says, is an abandoned church. He wants them to interview the townspeople and survey the area, finding out as much as they can while they’re allowed there. Oh, and one more thing – he asks for them to try and find out about the stories they have regarding an entity known as the creeper.
It’s from this point that Shine throws us into the fire. We follow Ben and Chloe as they hike to this isolated town and find a group of residents who are so dirty and unkept that you can practically smell them and feel the grime on your fingers while you read. But, one thing we’ve learned for many, many years – all the way back to movies such as ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ – is that the locals hate visitors and as such, their demise is put into motion.
What separates this novel from many others, is that the action leaves and comes back. We get to see how the myths are not forbidden from travelling past a certain point and we get to learn more about our main characters, the town itself and our reclusive Dr. Sparling.
The ending is brutal, horrible and spot-on perfect for what the book has detailed and how the plot has navigated the peaks and valleys of our characters journey.
What I didn’t like: I was a bit let down, personally, by the ‘reveal.’ The shared knowledge of what our antagonist is and was didn’t sit right for me, much in the same way some of Wesolowski’s ‘Six Stories’ ended up not going as far as I had hoped they would.
Why you should buy this: Shine has quickly established himself as a must-read author for me. His books hum along and the stories are brutal, visceral and unputdownable. I devoured this one and once it sunk its fangs into me, it wouldn’t let go.
Another winner from an author who needs to hurry up and put out another book!
The Creeper is out now via Head Of Zeus books.
The Creeper is a masterful tale of horror and suspense from one of Ireland’s most talented emerging authors.
Superstitions only survive if people believe in them…
Renowned academic Dr Sparling seeks help with his project on a remote Irish village. Historical researchers Ben and Chloe are thrilled to be chosen – until they arrive.
The village is isolated and forgotten. There is no record of its history, its stories. There is no friendliness from the locals, only wary looks and whispers. The villagers lock down their homes at sundown.
It seems a nameless fear stalks the streets, but nobody will talk – nobody except one little girl. Her words strike dread into the hearts of the newcomers. Three times you see him. Each night he comes closer…
That night, Ben and Chloe see a sinister figure watching them. He is the Creeper. He is the nameless fear in the night. Stories keep him alive. And nothing will keep him away…
Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.