Author: Adam Slater. Release date: 2011. Publisher: EgmontUSA. ISBN: 9781606842614.
Personal thoughts: I love a good ghost story, and I was definitely surprised (but pleased!) with how creepy this book was, especially since it is less than 200 pages. Although it is full of British lingo (kitbag, motorway, etc.), I think this novel would be great for reluctant readers, especially boys. The story gets going immediately, wasting little time between scares. It does manage to establish an interesting setting and cast of characters, however, providing opportunities for discussion or critical thinking. I look forward to picking up the second installment, both for the potential scares and the possibilities the series holds for sparking an interest in reading for young adults.
Plot summary: Callum Scott has been able to see ghosts his whole life. When he was younger, he would often embarrass himself by trying to talk to people no one else could see. Now he is in high school and has taught himself how to hide his “gift” from others: his friends, his teachers, and his Gran, who he lives with in a small cottage outside of his English village. One evening, however, Callum suddenly discovers that his powers have taken a startling turn: he now has the ability to see the future, sensing lurking danger when a tingling sensation overpowers his body. It also appears that the ghost population of Marlock has increased in size, with specters from all walks of life floating nearby wherever he goes. To make matters worse, Callum senses something evil. A bizarre and gruesome series of murders nearby have the village on edge. As more and more teenagers are killed, Callum begins to fear that whatever is hunting them is after him as well. Will Callum be able to use the powers he’s kept hidden for years to save himself and the people he loves from this new evil?
Review: Short but creepy, this first installment in a new horror series for young adults packs a powerful punch for a book of its size. Author Adam Slater’s enthusiasm for the genre is evident throughout the novel. Suspense is built effectively throughout the story with genuinely scary moments, the right amount of gore, and an overall feeling of dread. Callum Scott is a likable protagonist, generally keeping to himself in school but still managing to be popular and easygoing. His relationship with his Gran is very pleasing, as are the descriptions of their quaint and cozy cottage in the woods. Juxtaposed with these more heart-warming aspects of the novel is the horror that is The Hunter. The Hunter narrates the book from time to time, describing in detail how it relishes murder and enjoys toying with Callum. Some of the scenes in the story are more than a little creepy and will certainly cause the reader’s eyes to dart around looking for signs of a monster lurking in the corner. Thrown into the mix are references to supernatural folklore, including chime children, churchyard grims, and various methods of warding off evil. Since it is so short, this novel would be especially appealing for reluctant readers who will respond to the quick pacing and entertaining story. It will also be equally enjoyable for both teen and adult horror fans as well. The second installment, The Shadowing: Skinned is set to be released in 2012.
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Damage by Anya Parrish, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki.
Themes: Ghosts, demons, haunting, psychic abilities, murder, England.
Series Information: First installment in The Shadowing series. Second novel, The Shadowing: Skinned to be released in 2012.
- Do you think Callum’s ability to see ghosts is a gift or a curse? Why?
- Research some of the supernatural folklore in the novel. Where does it get its roots? Is the novel true to the history?
- What do you think happened to Callum’s father?
- What would you like to see happen in the sequel?