Friday, November 1, 2013

The Watcher in the Shadows

The Watcher in the Shadows is a YA supernatural thriller novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

In the summer of 1937, fourteen-year-old Irene Sauvelle’s family has moved to the coast of Normandy for a fresh start.

Still mourning the death of her father, they are struggling to find happiness once more – a new normal.

When Irene’s mother receives a job offer from a wealthy, reclusive toymaker she takes it. The toys he makes are automatons – some of which almost appear to have a life of their own…

Their slowly healing family gets a shock when a young girl is found dead in the forests surrounding the toymaker’s mansion.

Suddenly all of the ghost stories they’ve heard since moving to their foggy home become more possible.

It seems that there is an evil – and a mystery surrounding it – pervading their new town.

In order to keep her family from undergoing yet another loss, Irene knows that she must figure out what it is…

The Watcher in the Shadows is very successful at being quietly suspenseful, creepy and atmospheric. It also has a strong sense of summer, and memories.

However, I was concerned very early on that I was guessing the big twists to come.

In the meantime, the story told itself very smoothly, keeping a tense yet calm-before-the-storm vibe throughout.

I do wish that animals did not so often pay a price in horror stories. But I digress.

Sadly, the smartest decisions aren’t always made in The Watcher in the Shadows but I did feel pulled into the supernatural tension. And really the premise is pretty hair-raising. Respectably chilling.

I’ve never been one to deny being freaked out by, say, ventriloquist puppets. Automatons are right there. Almost worse, because they can and do move/talk on their own. They are fascinating, though.

The Watcher in the Shadows is darker that what you would expect for younger readers, but it’s a good ghost story.

Unfortunately, my concern that I was correctly guessing the big twists? Well, I was right.

So, it was predictable, and not altogether original – but decent.

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