Feb 24, 2015

[Books] Night Terrors (Shadow Watch - Book 1)

Like any other reader, I seem to be overwhelmed with far too many books to read given the limited time I have to read them. And yet I continue to participate in various review programs including being a member of the Angry Robot Army. But hey, Angry Robot Books has been a nice source for interesting books to read, so I can't really complain.

Night Terrors is one such book that has been stuck in my reading queue far too long, especially since the sequel has already appeared in my review queue. If the book was good enough to merit a sequel, then I figured that I really  needed to read it so as not to have too much backlog. And admittedly, this was quite the fun little read.

It's nice when writers take familiar elements from different properties and mix them up to create something new. And this book was a nice mix of bits and pieces from different properties resulting in something rather stellar. It's a fun little romp in a familiar yet different world that is worth a second look.

Synopsis: Night Terrors is the first book in Tim Waggoner's Shadow Watch series of books. I received a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion of the work.

Audra Hawthorne is a member of a secret agency known as the Shadow Watch that polices the interactions between the real world and the world of dreams known as Nod. She has become an agent because she's an Ideator - a unique individual who has somehow manifested one of her dreams as a separate entity. This person is an Incubus dream creature knonwn Mr. Jinx, who was once her nightmare of a killer clown. Now the pair do their best to apprehend Incubi criminals and keep both worlds safe. So yes, she is literally partners with her greatest nightmare.

The actual story begins with the two pursuing an assassin on Earth. But one thing leads to another and the arrest turns out less than ideally and the two are taken off the case. But naturally Audra isn't the sort of person to give up on a case so easily. And this case is far greater than just a series of murders, but actually ties to a greater threat that risk both Earth and Nod if the true mastermind isn't stopped.

The setting behind this book series is pretty fantastic. In what kind of a world would one have to become partners with your worst nightmare, right? And yet this is the rule of this reality and the two generally have a decent enough working arrangement, despite the childhood trauma. The author really put some thought into this whole experience, And I rather appreciate what they tried to accomplish here. There's a heck of a lot of potential for story here.

The book as a whole though feels shorter than it should have been, and so there are moments when it seems like characters jump through events rather quickly. And I say this despite the fact that the actual story takes place over a limited period of time with respect to the in-book calendar. But given the mystery element of the story, it's sad that towards the end some "clues" were explained in-story without any chance of the reader figuring it out for themselves. I'm talking about the initial mystery behind the assassin and his victims - you never really know why they were killed until the very end when it is revealed by dialog. And not the sort of magical unveiling you get in good mystery novels, but instead it's literally a "someone confessed" moment, although the actual confession happened "off-camera". And it's a shame when that happens - like the writer needed to rush to the end and forgot about how to build up the reveal there.

Audra is a decent enough character, although we don't know a heck of a lot about her other than the fact that she's our protagonist and pretty much our point of view in terms of the story. Jinx is her nightmare clown, but we don't see a whole lot of that early relationship in this book. Oddly enough, a large part of the book is spent with Jinx's alternate Day Aspect (who is not a clown) rather than his rather wicked insane Night Self. I would like to explore that part of the story more.

The overall plan of our mysterious big bad was okay but a little convoluted for my tastes. I think this ties back to the lack of proper clue-laying and mystery build-up that cheapened many elements of the ending. It's a rather nefarious plan and over time you come to appreciate it, but I think it was handled somewhat clumsily.

But what the book is is a lot of fun. It's a nice little urban fantasy piece with weird alternate reality / science fiction elements and a bit of trauma at its core. Ideators lose the ability to sleep once they first manifest their Incubus and that's a very strange reality to consider. And yet she finds a way to barrel through things and still get the bad guys in the end. And so you have to admire that effort.

Night Terrors is a fun reading experience and the premise alone holds a lot of potential. Despite my complaints about some aspects of the writing, it's still a piece that I recommend you all try to read. The book gets 3.5 strange Incubus creatures out of a possible 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment