I really wanted to lean toward a four when rating Shy Grove. There was a lot to like about it. The writing was very good. The descriptions and the peoI really wanted to lean toward a four when rating Shy Grove. There was a lot to like about it. The writing was very good. The descriptions and the people were very realistically portrayed. I did have a few issues with it, however, that kept me from giving it the four it probably deserves. Most of it was regarding some plot inconsistencies. I will say this for it, though. Once Shy Grove hooked me it really hooked me.
One of the issues I had was in the characters. Not the characters themselves because they felt real. Not always likable but real, nonetheless. I think the main problem with it was we don't get enough time with Gary and Angela to really get to know them before the changes start taking hold. Angela's character I wasn't too thrilled with but other people might like her better than I did. The character of Zach I loved a lot. And it really surprised me because with the way the book started I was rolling my eyes a bit. He starts out as the stereotypical rude, internet-obsessed teen. While I admit that a lot of teens (not to mention adults) that fall into that category there are plenty who don't. His character really made the book for me.
The pacing was good. Once it picked up it never let off until the end. I do think, at the risk of slowing it down a bit, that Shy Grove is a book that could have benefited from some flashback scenes. There were quite a few unanswered questions about the cult and the motivations of Gary's aunt (mostly the question of why his aunt would leave him the house). It felt like it needed a bit more backstory. I kind of had the impression that the author wanted to get to "the good stuff" so fast that he skimped on backstory for the cult and the characters. There were a few things about Angela and Gary that get thrown in halfway through the book that seem to come out of the blue. A little more build up would have been nice. I loved the ending. I saw one part of it coming but there were quite a few things that genuinely surprised me. Zach's thoughts during it seemed very realistic.
It was a very fast and entertaining read that I did enjoy quite a lot. Scott Johnson has a way of describing scenes that make them very vivid. The idea behind the barn floor was very cool and imaginative. I would recommend it. There may be a few inconsistencies but they are there on reflection, while you're reading it they don't really stand out. I'd be very interested in reading more by Mr. Johnson.
Source: Received from the author for review consideration...more
Holy hell it's been awhile since I whipped through a book so fast. And not because I was eager to be done with it but because it was just so good. I wHoly hell it's been awhile since I whipped through a book so fast. And not because I was eager to be done with it but because it was just so good. I was a little leery going in because it seemed like the plot was a lot of "been there, read that" (and the 'Messy Man' just didn't seem that scary of a name). So huge credit to the writer for making 'messy' sound absolutely terrifying. It seemed to hold a fairly steady but enjoyable course for the first several chapters but after a while it kept twisting and turning so fast I felt like Reagan from The Exorcist. What I loved about it was that the twists made sense. They didn't seem random or done "just because". They fit the story. After reading so many books with 'twists' that seem thrown in just because the writer thinks it needs some major, earth-shattering twist but isn't really necessary. To read one where the surprises actually surprise and the scares actually scare is refreshing.
The pace is perfect. It's a bit slower when it needs to be and pulls you along where it needs to. I loved the characters. They felt very real to me. The dialogue was excellent and believable. I loved the character of Pete, of Hannah and even Riggs. There was a part that I kind of saw coming and it did, partly, but again The Nightmare Room left me surprised (and happy). The atmosphere was great. It felt omnipresent and there in a way that only good writers really achieve.
There were a few issues but nothing really major enough for me to really dock The Nightmare Room for. I would like a bit of further elucidation on certain points. However, since it is a series that may come. I liked the ending even though it seemed a bit too 'perfect' but I have a feeling that it's not, really, which made me like it more. I will agree with Lilyn in that the end did take away some of the power of the previous scenes but you're still left with an uneasy feeling. And that's all that I will say about the end because it doesn't deserve to get spoiled.
I would definitely recommend it because it is a great book that takes a somewhat overdone idea and made something new and terrifying out of it. If I had read this in my younger days I'd probably be sleeping with the lights on.
Received from the author for review consideration...more