The Monsters In Our Shadows
by Edward J. Cembal
Genre: Horror / Dark Fantasy
Print Length: 400 pages
Reviewed by Jadidsa Perez
A hair-raising story about the struggle to accept your monstrous side, lest it consume you
Edward J. Cembal’s debut novel, The Monsters in Our Shadows, details a dystopian world filled with the “afflicted:” humans who have parasitic, amorphous monsters tethered to them.
As time goes on, the monsters—called “Shivers”—become so malnourished that they devour their human host and anyone around. Humanity is nearly extinct, the last of them all living in the city of Atlas. It’s our protagonist’s job, Anthem, to ensure these Shivers are disposed of day in and day out.
But tensions begin to rise amongst the afflicted and non-afflicted, forcing Anthem to go out and look for a cure for the monsters that have plagued his life.
The Monsters in Our Shadows is one of the most riveting books I’ve ever read. The book begins in the best, most gut-wrenching way, and it only continues this high threshold. It’s always hard to predict what will happen next, as there is a constant air of mystery and bog.
The pacing moves along swiftly and naturally, and it’s easy to get acquainted with the world of the story. The characters’ ways of life are established well, and somehow, even the concept of Shivers does not feel outlandish. The Monsters in our Shadows is able to live up to its hot start because of how much care Cembal utilizes in cultivating this world.
Another element of this book that really stands out is the morality conflict that presides over the characters. It feels quite allegorical to our current issue with “othering,” as those afflicted are ostracized by society. The way Cembal incorporates this into the book is both thoughtful and impressive. Rather than make it overly simple, it portrays a complex outlook on the issue. This, combined with the horrific aspects of the plot, make for a unique read.
I absolutely loved this book. The story has a level of grit and fascination that horror fans will appreciate, and it feels like a good mix of horror and sci-fi. I would recommend this to any fan that enjoys both or either genre. Let’s just hope this turns into more novels from Cembal.
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