Drollerie Press, $5.95, ISBN 978-0-9798081-2-8
Horror Romance, 2007
Restless Shadows has some romance, but it is not the main focus of the story. This one is actually a supernatural thriller featuring two very damaged characters. It’s a very interesting story regardless of whichever label this story is most suited to be tagged with.
The main characters in this story are obsessed about death. Anna Carswell was driven to depression when she was a teenager by her parents’ high expectations, but her suicide attempt failed, leaving her instead with an ability to see a person’s aura and correctly gauge when death will strike. Meanwhile, when Nick Edwards was a boy, he could only watch as his sister willingly left with a gunman in order to spare his life. Later, his sister’s body would turn up by the roadside. Blaming himself for leaving the door unlocked and therefore allowing his sister’s rapist-cum-murderer to break into his house, the boy’s guilt and despair allowed him to cast the villain as the boogeyman in his nightmares. As an adult, Nick is still unable to move on from his childhood trauma and he is now unhealthily fascinated with death, or rather, the peace and closure that he believed he could find in death.
These two are college students who share the same morbid obsession, but they also realize this when they find themselves on the same trip to Italy, France, and Ireland. The trip is organized by a professor to study some old cemeteries that may contain historic relics or something like that. However, romance may not be smooth sailing all the way here as not only are there some men who are interested in Anna way too much for her own good, there are also supernatural forces waiting to make Anna and Nick’s life a little more… interesting, let’s just say.
The romance between Anna and Nick, as I’ve mentioned, isn’t the main focus of the story so this story isn’t going to make you happy if all you are looking for here is romance. If you are amenable to settling for a memorable and definitely unusual supernatural thriller, this one may just satisfy. The atmosphere in this story is very well rendered, making the story an appropriately chilling one to read – especially since I was reading this in the dead of night when everyone else in the house was asleep. I tell you, when the dog in the backyard howled, I gave a jump. The character study is also very well done. I find myself intrigued by the psychology of the damaged characters, especially Nick’s, and it is fascinating to watch as the author peels away the layers of their personalities.
The downside of this story, for me, is the events at the climactic moment. At that point, events take a turn for the most silly, turning what was until that point a compelling psychological thriller into a story with creepy spirits that whisper and hiss as if they are villains in some cartoon.
Still, despite the rather unsatisfying pay-off, Restless Shadows is an interesting read. Like many of this author’s previous works, this one is definitely a story that I won’t be forgetting in a while. It’s creepy, very entertaining, and features some of the most interesting damaged characters I’ve come across in a while.
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