The Rebel Christian

Book Reviews

Night of the Shadows: Murder and Mayhem

By SM Randle

By SM Randle

*I first must say that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. *

I don’t normally put that at the beginning of my reviews but I feel the need to make that clear so that readers understand there is no bias in this review.

Night of the Shadows is a horror novel. It’s a book about murder told from the perspective of the serial killer. I was VERY excited to get a copy of this book when I received the review request because I thought it was unique and intriguing.

I’m pretty delighted to be able to say that my assumptions were not wrong. This book was unique due to the fact that it centered around a female serial killer who was African-American. I’m always on the lookout for minority leads so this was like a double dose when I read that the main character was a black female who was also a psychotic killer!

I also loved how dark the theme of the book was. It wasn’t just about a serial killer—because that’s dark and horrific enough—it was about a woman who used the powers of ‘the shadows’ to help her carry out these twisted murders. As far as creativity and originality goes, I think Randle deserves a couple fair points.

In terms of pacing, the story was well presented. I think this is actually the second book in this series but I was still able to follow the storyline fairly easily and I felt like I had a grasp of what the characters were like. I won’t say I made a connection with the cast but I did have a good understanding what kind of killer Bobbie Jean was.

I will compliment Randle on this story, it had some good aspects and had the potential to become one of my favorite reads but I do believe it fell short on some parts. My biggest complaint would be the style of writing. MANY of the sentences were structured like reading a past tense to-do list. She checked into the hotel. She unpacked her things. She laid on the bed, it felt so fluffy.

That’s not an exact quote but the entire story followed that pattern which made it suffer. It was tough to get through and had a lot of pockets of unnecessary information. I don’t need to know that Bobbie ordered jumbo lump cakes, a salad with honey mustard dressing, the Shellfish Trio, classic BBQ baby back ribs, and a blondie from Ruby Tuesday’s when she was hungry—and that’s an exact quote.

There were also a few inconsistencies with the story itself. One—that I can recall on hand—was in the very beginning. Bobbie was listening to the radio in the car as a news reporter spoke about the murders but in the narration Randle says that the reporter holds up a picture of Bobbie. But it’s the radio! Bobbie wouldn’t know that the reporter held up a photo because she would be listening to a cast, not watching it on TV.

When it came time to give detail, I think the author fell short. In one part of the story, Bobbie lays down and thinks about how she’s a killer and how every news station is talking about her. Her thoughts on the subject: “This is awesome” and then she daydreams until she falls asleep. You cannot sum up the thoughts of a demonic mercenary with ‘awesome’. Not to mention there were a handful of notable grammatical errors. I don’t normally budge with grammar because I don’t care about misplaced commas. But when I consistently see an author write ‘use to’ instead of ‘used to’ then I will point it out. That’s English 101.

To put it bluntly, I think the writing was elementary and needed more development. But the plot itself was good. It’s not a bad concept or a bad story. It’s that the author’s writing is not yet strong enough to support the idea. Unfortunately, I have to give this book a low rating but I am more than willing to change this rating if he/she decides to edit and revise.    

If you are someone who loves horror, then you might want to give this book a chance in the future. I wouldn’t overlook it so quickly because of this review, it definitely has potential. If you have an open mind and are an easy going reader, then I would encourage you to give this book a chance.