Title: The Shadowing: Hunted
Series: The Shadowing (#1)
Publisher: EgmontUSA (2011)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Once every century, the barrier between the human world and the demon realm begins to break down. Creatures gather, anxiously waiting to cross the divide, to bring death and destruction from their world to ours. This time is called The Shadowing.
Callum Scott has always known that there is a supernatural world out there—he’s seen ghosts for as long as he can remember. Lately, he’s had visions of children being brutally murdered by a terrifying creature. Then the visions start coming true, and Callum realizes that he’s being hunted, too.
Driven by a dark destiny, he must stand against the demons that threaten our world.
And The Shadowing is almost here. . .” GoodReads blurb
I chose to read this book on impulse, because I liked the blurb but one of the two available covers scared the lights out of me (the gory, not-portrayed-on-this-blog one, if you’re terribly curious).
I can’t stress it enough, how glad I am that I were so visceral... because this is one great visceral book.
Nowadays I find that many authors seeking to thrill, to scare their readers, will resort to gore as a means to shock, as if that was supposed to be the terrifying thing. Mr Slater does not do such a thing: from the very first line, he weaves a tapestry of feeling, of the kind of anticipation that makes your gut clench and your breath catch in the back of your throat, and then he adds the gore brushes just so, in a way that is meant to drive home the dire situation in a way that is much more powerful than a simple blood bath. Because, of course, there is blood. There is a demonic creature on the loose, and it’s hungry. And it doesn’t kill in a refined manner, either – the descriptions of the hunt, of the killings, sent chills up my spine.
But they were not gratuitous. They didn’t stand alone. They flowed with and supported and were shaped by the story and the tone, and that’s a level of skill I have not seen very often in the genre.
The genre, by the way, is not horror.
Haunted is, I’d say, a Paranormal Young Adult, ripe with mysteries and action and even a little bit of romance thrown in to balance everything out.
Callum, our main character, has a normal teen life... except that he can see ghosts. And except that he didn’t feel like a character at all: he felt like a person. He had school, and a grandmother, and hobbies and even buddies if not friends, and then his world, which was a bit wacky to begin with, starts falling apart. The ghosts are not only ghosts: they are, for the first time, trying to speak to him. He is dreaming things, things that happen in the waking world. And he can’t shake the feeling of dread sometimes, as if he were being pursued.
He can see ghosts, but he has always tried to ignore them so he has no idea what might be going on... and enter the girl, Melissa. Contrary to other books, this time her appearance didn’t come across as forced: she was a strong character on her own right. A bit of an oddball, she knows all the stuff Callum ignores and has the curiosity, courage and dedication to try to help him figure it out... and things don’t go much further beyond that, which was an aspect I loved, loved, loved: I do have a romantic streak about a mile wide, but I do like to see things unfold slowly and logically in a relationship, from time to time.
The rest of the cast was well balanced, well developed: the bullies at school, for example, behaved just as a bully would, and for the right reasons. Granma held.... a great surprise in store for me, and while I could understand her I’ll not condone her actions (read to find out, and be surprised as I was!). The ghost who tries to talk to Callum in the first place felt more like a third main character than as a secondary, and the monstrous, black dog... Well, let’s just say that the supernatural research in this book has been quite well done, and that’s a detail that always adds points for me.
Beyond the great characters, the plot might seem to be straight forward – a supernatural creature on the loose causing mayhem, right? But, and that’s just another point, it’s not. There’s more, so much more behind the attacks. Eventually, Callum will have to find out why they are happening, why they are targeting him... and this will unlock secrets from his past that he is not ready to deal with yet. And that’s just as well: when you’re suddenly told that you must risk your life because it’s what you’re there for, after all, not many sane, real people would happily shoulder the burden and take up arms.
No, Callum had to fight with himself to choose, he had to scramble to survive and to find out how to stop the killings, if such a thing was possible at all... And I loved The Shadowing: Hunted all the more for it.
At the end of the story, we glimpse what’s going on behind the scenes and then get a preview for the next book in the series... and boy, if I weren’t already dying to read the sequel, the promise of what’s to come would have done me in!
If you like young adult, and even if you don’t, if you like tense, well written ghost stories that read like the genre is supposed to... well, then I think you should read this one.