Welcome to my stop on The Creeper blog tour! Huge thanks to Head of Zeus for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 15/09/2022
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Horror | Gothic Horror
CW: graphic depictions of death and violence, grotesque imagery
Superstitions only survive if people believe in them…GoodReads
Renowned academic Dr Sparling seeks help with his project on a remote Irish village. Historical researchers Ben and Chloe are thrilled to be chosen – until they arrive.
The village is isolated and forgotten. There is no record of its history, its stories. There is no friendliness from the locals, only wary looks and whispers. The villagers lock down their homes at sundown.
It seems a nameless fear stalks the streets, but nobody will talk – nobody except one little girl. Her words strike dread into the hearts of the newcomers. Three times you see him. Each night he comes closer…
That night, Ben and Chloe see a sinister figure watching them. He is the Creeper. He is the nameless fear in the night. Stories keep him alive. And nothing will keep him away…
I loved Shine’s debut novel The Watchers when I read it last year, I loved his modern take on the gothic horror genre so I was elated to see that Shine was keeping with this direction with his next novel The Creeper. I wasn’t sure how Shine would be able to top the tense and terrifying atmosphere of The Watchers but believe me when I say that he certainly managed it and finishing The Creeper left me incredibly unsettled, and incredibly grateful that I decided to read the novel during the day rather than before bed.
The characters were all very well written and all made an impact regardless of how often you saw them in the novel. The mysterious prologue with a terrified Fiona in, what appears to be, her final moments perfectly set the tone for the novel and immediately had me hooked. In fact, I didn’t put this book down once until I had finished it, I just couldn’t tear myself away. I became so invested in the mystery of ‘the creeper’ and the lives of Ben, Chloe and the strange Dr. Alec Sparling. Even when Ben’s thoughts and actions made me want to shout at the page (because that’s how tense the book made me!).
Once again, Shine expertly uses the environment to his advantage when building the tension and the unease with every page. The detailed descriptions of the isolated village of Tír Mallacht somehow made such a rural village, one that is almost lost to nature, feel so claustrophobic. Even before Ben and Chloe set foot there, you are already on edge with all the secrecy that surrounds the village, its inhabitants and the project that has sent them there.
It’s not only Shine’s descriptions of the setting that creates the unnatural atmosphere, but the way he describes the villagers themselves and, ultimately, ‘the creeper’. There’s something uncanny, or, unheimlich, about all of them. Not only do the villagers have the classic signs of an isolated, gothic, setting like being wary and standoffish with strangers, but somehow Shine manages to take this one step further. Especially with the adults’ desperate attempts to keep the children from interacting with Ben and Chloe.
As this is a fairly short novel, one perfect to devour within a day (or night, if you’re brave enough), getting the pacing right is crucial and it’s something that Shine does very well. From the opening lines the reader is thrown into the madness and the chaos of the world of ‘the creeper’. I loved how fast-paced the novel was as a whole, how the story of ‘the creeper’ can so quickly infect someone and how life as you know it can dramatically change forever before you realise it. The one aspect around the plot and pacing I was hoping would be more important was Ben’s daughter Aoife, especially with the urgency that surrounded her towards the end of the novel. However, keeping the book to this length keeps the plot and the horror from losing momentum which I appreciate.
Overall, even hours after finishing the book I genuinely feel wary now it is dark outside. I’m finding myself doing everything I can to avoid looking out the window just in case. So, if you’re looking for a stunningly, spine-chilling, novel to keep you up at night then The Creeper is certainly one for you! Just be careful, if you read this at night, first be sure to close the curtains or pull the blinds before you dive in, in case… uh-oh.
About the Author
A.M. Shine writes in the Gothic horror tradition. Born in Galway, Ireland, he received his Master’s Degree in History there before sharpening his quill and pursuing all things literary and macabre. His stories have won the Word Hut and Bookers Corner prizes and he is a member of the Irish Writers Centre. His debut novel, The Watchers, has been critically acclaimed. The Creeper is his second full-length novel.