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The Watcher in the Shadows

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon, published by Orion.

Goodreads synopsis: A mysterious toy-maker who lives as a recluse in an old mansion, surrounded by the mechanical beings he has created …an enigma surrounding strange lights that shine through the mists that envelop the small island on which the old lighthouse stands…a shadowy creature that hides deep in the woods…these are the elements of a mystery that bind will bind 14-year-old Irene to Ismael during one magical summer spent in the Blue Bay. He mother has taken a job as a housekeeper for the toy-maker, Lazarus, but his house contains more secrets than Irene and Ishmael have bargained for.

My review: The Watcher in the Shadows was absolutely amazing! The plot was original, and downright terrifying. The events played out really well, and there wasn’t a single boring page. The whole book was well paced and climatic, and every second was scarily realistic. I thought that the idea of an evil, unidentified shadow haunting a woman was really terrifying. That imaginative idea was made realistic through horrifically detailed diary entries by the ill woman. Also, the automatons, made by the toy-maker, were so scary! It was really interesting to find out why he made them. Also, I really loved the setting, and I think it made a really effective backdrop for an eerie tale- an old mansion on a small island. All of the above made for a really riveting tale about Irene, a girl who has just moved to the island, and discovers all of these dark secrets.

Irene was a really great protagonist, who was three-dimensional and believable  Although the book was centered around other characters, too, I think I connected with Irene the most and understood her emotions more. Maybe that was because of her age and personality, but I also think that was because her emotions shone through much more than anyone else’s, and were really understandable. However, there was one point in the book where she and Ismael were facing a life-or-death situation, and I know that she was traumatized, but I really would have liked her to step in and help a bit more, because that would’ve made her a real hero. Also, I really loved seeing her relationship with her and Ismael develop throughout the events of the book, because their love for each other, I think, helped them get trough the ending.

Overall, The Watcher in the Shadows was an absolutely brilliant read. It was possibly the best ghost/horror story that I have read in ages! The characters were realistic, and their situation was terrifying and scary. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, and couldn’t stop reading this dramatic, horrific tale. To top off this amazing book, it also had a satisfying ending that brought a tear to my eye. It’s a great read, I think, for about 12 and up. Although I haven’t actually read the previous two books in the series, I could understand the book. I’ll be looking out for the previous titles, and more  from Carlos Ruiz Zafon in the future!

I received The Watcher in the Shadows from the publisher, in exchange for a review.

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