In Shadows of the Wicked by Michael R. Collins

In Shadows Of The WickedIn Shadows Of The Wicked by Michael R. Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In Shadows of the Wicked is a deliciously creepy story that follows two young men who cannot sever their ties to wicked ghosts that brutally murdered their mother and father, try as they might. Jeremy and Reggie’s parents were killed in front of their eyes by an evil ghost family of three. The Family includes the father, Prester, who orchestrates the family’s movement from their current spiritual world toward an ultimate Other World; Daphne, his wife and helper; and Angeline, their daughter, who has a special affinity toward inflicting pain and fear on her victims. After the murders Jeremy and Reggie move from a town in Virginia to Austin, TX to be near their Aunt Becky. Eventually the boys begin seeing The Family again. No matter how hard they try to get rid of The Family, they always come back. The Family recruits the help of a troubled man named Floyd to help entice the boys into dangerous situations that bring them closer to The Family so they can finish what they’ve started. Can Jeremy and Reggie rid themselves of The Family and Floyd for good before it’s too late for them and their closest friends?

I love ghosts and ghost stories, so this book was right up my alley. Ghosts are especially scary to me when they can so brutally possess or straight up murder people, which Michael gets into early on. It’s bad enough when ghosts just haunt the hell out of you until you feel you’ll go insane – it’s another when you’ve seen them kill your parents and wonder when they’ll kill you. The story overall was super creative and pretty gory. Especially toward the end of the book when they’re in a town called Bliss – at least the town as how The Family fabricates it to the delight of Floyd and to the horror of the others – there are some pretty demented things that go on there. I also like Michael’s overall depiction of ghosts – how they’re seen, how they behave, how they touch people. I thought the ghosts were unique and creepy. The plot was the right amount of complexity to where it kept you guessing, but it still had an overall arc so you weren’t left frustrated at the end of the book.

There were just a few things that could detract from the story. I felt the characters could have been a bit more developed, maybe needing more depth or complexity. The characters were thankfully consistent throughout the book, but for some reason many of them felt very two-dimensional to me. More (or different?) description about their thoughts, feelings and looks may have helped.

The pace of the book starts off very fast and action-packed to set the tone of terror, but then it just seemed like a long while until you got to the action-packed ending. So if you can get over a period of lag, then you’ll be fine because the ending was pretty good and unpredictable.

The last thing that bugged me was an issue of editing or proofing. There was a higher incidence of grammatical errors (i.e. a question needed a ?, but a statement didn’t need that ?) or misspelled words than what I’m used to. It wasn’t horrible by any means, but for someone who is picky about that kind of thing, it can be distracting when you find more than one or two in a single book.

Overall I think this is a great book if you’re into ghost stories, and I plan on reading more by this author.

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