Thursday 14 April 2011

Review: The Shadowing: Hunted by Adam Slater

Once every century, the boundary between the demon Netherworld and the human world weakens. Legions of creatures gather, preparing to cross over, to bring death and destruction. This time is called The Shadowing. Callum has always known that there is something beyond the mortal world - he can see ghosts. Lately, he's started to have horrific visions of children murdered by some terrible, unseen creature. And then the visions start to come true - and Callum realises he is being hunted too. But Callum must stay alive. He is bound by a dark destiny, and must stand against the demon forces that threaten our world forever. For it is nearly time. The Shadowing is coming...

Back in December I wrote on post about the cover of Adam Slater's debut horror book Hunted, the first in his The Shadowing series. At the time I asked whether it was possibly the most gruesome YA horror cover so far. Then in January Adam very kindly wrote a short piece about his book as part of my Coming Up in 2011 feature. I had been fortunate by then to have been sent a copy by the generous people at Egmont and reassessed this initial judgement - taken in context the cover is a lot less gory, although still not one for the squeamish. Let me remind you what Adam said about his book for me back in January:

What would you do if you found out that not only could you see ghosts, but a load of demons were about to cross over into our world, and you were the only person who could stop them? That’s exactly what teenager Callum Scott faces in my new horror series, The Shadowing. His only backup is ghost boy Jacob and his giant spectral dog, Doom. And those demons aren’t going down without a fight. Soon Callum’s being hunted, and by something you wouldn’t want to encounter in your worst nightmares… If you like skin-crawling horror fiction, you’ll love The Shadowing!

There have been some great new horror series over the past year and this book is up there with the best of them. Horror loving boys and girls will be hooked from the very first paragraphs - as prologues go this one is a beauty as it gives the reader an idea of the extreme peril our hero might find himself in, even before we have met him. The final paragraph of the prologue is more than a little gory but even the squeamish should stick with it past this point as it is not a true reflection of the rest of the story's tone.

The story's main protagonist is Callum Scott, a normal teenage boy except for one key factor - he can see ghosts. He has always possessed this ability, not that he would ever tell anyone else, but more recently their numbers have increased and he can hardly go anywhere without seeing them. The only place he feels he has real peace and quiet from these ghosts is in the small country cottage he shares with his grandmother, a rather eccentric lady who has a secret she wants to keep from Callum. Being able to see ghosts is not exactly pleasant, but Callum has come to terms with it over the years. However, all of a sudden he also starts having visions of events in the very near future, events that he can alter by taking action. Couple this new development with a number of pretty grisly murders that seem to be getting closer and closer to home and life is suddenly turned upside down for Callum.

Last year I was raving about the first of David Gatward's The Dead books, and what a series that has turned out to be. On the strength of this first offering I think I will be singing the praises of this series in the future as well. Hunted is fast-paced and exciting, but not so frantic that it goes from action scene to action scene. Adam Slater knows when to draw his audience in with small morsels of information that build the background to his characters, and then BLAM, he hits you in the face with a tense chase scene or he cuts to a grisly scene featuring his monster as it gradually gravitates towards Callum's area, leaving a bloody trail in its path.

At the end of my proof copy that Egmont sent me there is a chilling teaser chapter for the next book in the series, gruesomely titled Skinned, which according to Amazon is due to be published at the beginning of August this year. It is certainly a series I intend to follow based upon this book, which was published at the beginning of April and should be in most book shops by now. I must reiterate that if you like horror but are a little squeamish when it comes to gore I think you will still love this book as much as I did, as gore is not the main element of horror on show here; that honour goes to something far more creepy.