“Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the strangest show off Earth! … We’ve got chills, we’ve got thrills, but most of all … we’ve got madness!” So announces a ringmaster, who could very well be defining the book, Night Terrors, itself!
Tim Waggoner’s first book in the Shadow Watch series is a highly imaginative, wholly original sci-fi/fantasy/mystery/dark fantasy mashup.
Audra Hawthorne is an “Ideator” — someone who makes her nightmare come to life. The Incubus (the Ideator’s nightmare) takes on two forms … a day form, typically fairly mellow and ordinary, and a night form — the opposite of the day appearance … frightening and dangerous. Audra’s incubus is a clown named jinx; a deadly, loose-cannon clown. Together, they are officers of the Shadow Watch, protecting both the earth and Nod, the night terror realm.
The plot is fairly basic — there is an uprising in Nod, an uprising that is crossing over to earth, and despite being taken off the case, only Audra and Jinx have the wherewithal and moxy (and sledgehammers) to stop it.
The plot being simple (but effective),it is therefore the characters that hold this work together and drive the story. Not just Audra and Jinx, though their relationship is a wonderful narcissistic balance – they need each other — and author Waggoner toys with this relationship in very effective ways. The symbiotic relationship between Ideator and Incubus (not just Audra and Jinx) is fun to read. Everyone’s is slightly different (naturally), yet there are some constants in effect for all pairings. In addition to the Ideator/Incubus partnerings, there are the individual characters (human and Incubus alike) that are also unique and fun (who isn’t going to like the Candyman?).
The noir mystery/cop aspect takes a back seat to the fantasy and humor, but it works. There are hints of romance which fortunately did not overwhelm this story. It was just enough to plant a seed for future books.
The writing moves along quickly — almost too quickly at times. More than once I stopped and thought to myself, “We were just told that entire section, rather than have it shown to us.” Usually this was in regards to Jinx’s hijinks. But upon thinking about it, I realize that it was often the telling, rather than showing, that kept the pace moving frantically along.
This really was a fun read. I’m hooked, and will be looking forward to the next Shadow Watch book.
Looking for a good book? Night Terrors is a rollicking fun mystery in the creepiest sorts of ways!
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author: Tim Waggoner
series: Shadow Watch #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 352 pages