Watch the Shadows
White Whisker Books
(May 1, 2015)
Impressionistic writing invites the imagination into this sci-fi mystery with idiosyncratic characters.
The sight of a plastic grocery bag drifting on the wind is common all over, but in Isla Vista it has taken on a truly menacing tone. The crows have left Freedom Park, the duck population is dwindling, and even the homeless are starting to disappear. In Watch the Shadows, Robin Winter gives the ordinary detritus of life a horrific spin.
The homeless are the first to notice something strange happening in their town, especially near their favorite haunt, Freedom Park. Soon others start to notice: Meg Berdigal’s cat goes missing, Brian the postman keeps seeing shadows in his peripheral vision, and high school science whiz Nicole notices the crows have fled her neighborhood and relocated near her friend Jack’s house across town. As Nicole begins to investigate, she comes to a realization that defies common sense and must figure out how to warn people they’re in danger from the impossible.
Winter writes in impressionistic strokes that invite the imagination to immerse itself in her world: “Nicole pried herself out from the press of the crowd, all the smells of perfume, perspiration and alcohol, the sweet waft of candy and melting chocolate combining with incense from the nearby apartment building with jack o’lanterns in the windows. Smoky pumpkin and a mixed reek of humanity.”
The point of view moves among a cast of well-developed characters who all exist on the edges of society. Brian knows everyone in the neighborhood from delivering their mail but goes home to an empty house at night. Meg runs the homeless breakfast at her church but finds herself at odds with some of the more conservative members. Nicole is particularly refreshing as a smart, teenage heroine who notices boys but is more concerned with her own situation than
getting their attention. Regular people battling the danger adds immensely to the feeling of anxiety and drama.
This book will appeal most to a young-adult audience looking for a sci-fi thriller that is heavy on thrills and light on romance.
You’ll need a book you want to read, a highlighter pen, and some stick on arrows like you see on legal documents that say: sign here.
Here’s what you mark up in the book:
l. Words, phrases, sentences you admire. That gave you a gut reaction.
2. Words that gave you an emotional hit. How did that author do that?
3. Plot points; characters made interesting; how?
4. Story points that pull in the reader.
Please add your own in the comments below.
- ‘Alex’s snub-nosed face sagged open. His blue eyes revolved incredulously.’ (Paul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson, ‘Heroes are Made’ aka ‘The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch’, May 1951 Other Worlds Science Stories)
- ‘Huddled on the armchair where he’d sat to read until late last night, Helenka was embracing her retracted knees.’
- ‘Her anguish could be perceived only by the way her lips tightened in a peristaltic pucker.’ (both Ben Pastor, Lumen, 1999)
Eyeballs in the Sky
- ‘For a few seconds, behind Torstad’s eyes, something rattled its chains.’ (Poul Anderson, There Will Be Time, 1973)
- ‘Jim stared with all his eyes.’ (Isabel Ostrander, Anything Once, 1920)
Digital Commerce Dept
- ‘Daniel sat back, steepling his long fingers across his waistcoat. He bought them from a little shop in Brixton Market.’ (Paul McAuley, Something Coming Through, 2015)
Dept of But Can They Hear You Scream?
- ‘No one escapes from the imperial navy any more than they do from the mines of Evron. But at least in space I can breathe …’ (E.E. Smith and Gordon Eklund, Lord Tedric, 1978)
Dept of Punchy Opening Lines.
‘At first there was only the cold, the Stygian inky iciness that held every muscle of his body in thrall and made his thoughts flow with the turgid slowness of treacly molasses.’ (Wilbur S. Peacock, ‘Spider-Men of Gharr’, Summer 1945 Planet Stories)
Quickness of the Hand Dept.
‘… he laughed, and before I could stop him, stroked my face with the speed of light.’ (Debbie Johnson, Dark Vision, 2014)
‘He stood tall, in fact even taller than he usually was.’ (Ibid)
Like a Huge Springing Beast Dept.
‘The redhead springs deep and soars through the air. Flying like a spread-eagled amoeba …’ (Kieran Shea, Koko Takes a Holiday, 2014)
Dept of Useful Add-Ons.
‘He rose to his spare elbows.’ (Charles E. Gannon, Fire with Fire, 2013) [AL]
Shock of Hair Dept.
‘His ginger hair with its generous dashes of grey sat on his head like an electrified cat.’ (J.D. Robb [Nora Roberts], Strangers in Death, 2008)
“When I was in the middle of writing Eat Pray Love and I fell into one of those pits of despair that we will fall into when we’re working on something that’s not coming and we think ‘this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book I’ve ever written — not just that but the worst book ever written … So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room and I said aloud ‘ Listen you, thing! You and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this, so if you want it to be better then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal, OK? But you know what? If you don’t do that then I’m going to keep writing because that’s my job and I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up and did my part of the job!” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author Eat Pray Love