The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Posted On 11 August 2020

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TheShadowMy TL:DR Five Word Review: Thriller with plenty of twists

The Shadow Friend was another very good read from Alex North.  I really enjoyed the Whisper Man and so when I saw The Shadow Friend I knew I had to read it and I’m so glad I did.  It feels like Alex North has plenty of fresh ideas and can spin a creepy tale that seems to border on the supernatural without ever actually crossing the line.

Shadow Friends is a book about murder.  Two school boys killed one of their classmates.  One of them seemed to disappear and one was brought to justice.  Another friend, not involved in the murder escaped the village and never came back until his mother was taken to hospital following a fall.

Paul Adams escaped his hometown following the death of a friend.  Twenty five years later his mother has suffered a fall and Paul travels home bringing back to the surface  unwanted and painful memories.  It appears that not everyone is happy to see Paul return and his steps seem to be shadowed.  Couple this with a new investigation following a copycat murder in a nearby village and you have the makings of a tense, chilling and mysterious story.

I really enjoyed this.  The tension practically oozes off the page and the mystery of it all held me fairly spellbound.  I simply had to know what was going on and the curiosity drove me forward at a fairly relentless pace.

To be honest, I thought the first half of the book was gripping.  We flip back and forth learning a little of Paul and his earlier years.  Charlie Crabtree is one of Paul’s friends, although I use the term loosely because Charlie is one of those characters that you just know is ‘one for the future’.  Charlie dominates the small group of friends and Paul is the only one to challenge his strange ideas of lucid dreaming eventually forcing Paul from the group entirely.  Which is probably something of a break given the turn things take.

Then the second half seemed to ramp the suspense up even more.

At the same time that Paul is mentally torturing himself about the past and feeling guilt over what he could have done differently, his movements are being shadowed, his presence in town isn’t welcome and somebody wants him to leave.  However, the investigation I referred to above is taking on a life of its own, the investigating officer has connected the dots and although this is clearly a copycat killer it seems that an online chat group could possible lead to the original perpetrator’s whereabouts being uncovered.  Charlie has taken on a dark cult status with a following that talks of the crime he commited.  Unfortunately, the new investigations seem to prompt a new round of killings – but, I’ll stop there because spoilers are highly likely and nobody wants a runaway blabbermouth now do they?

The characters.  Paul is likable and carries the story with ease – certainly to the extent that I found myself wanting to shout directions and instructions at him from the safety of my own living room like the cheap seats of a theatre (he’s behind you).  Charlie is a very easy to dislike character.  He’s manipulative and scheming and has a very dark streak.  The author does provide some history and a better understanding of Charlie’s motivations as the story progresses and this was a welcome inclusion that really helps to firm the foundations for events.

I enjoyed the setting.  We jump back to the school years with the bullying and awkward teenage boy moments.  There’s the forest that seems to back onto the boy’s houses and that takes on a life of its own with overgrown trails, snapping twigs and an overall ghostly atmosphere and there’s the overall creep factor which was here by the bucketload.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have much to say here.  I had a couple of little issues here and there but nothing that really merits mention.

On the whole I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read.  It’s dark and twisted – in fact, the main twist – omg – did not see that coming at all.  Then of course there’s a good number of other little twists but that main one – wow, what a sucker punch that was.

Chilling, riveting, creepy.  Another winning instalment by an author that I will definitely be keeping an eye on.

My rating 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




Top Ten Tuesday : Books on My Summer 2020 TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is :

Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

I love a nice easy list – this is literally the next 10 books that I will be reading (I also have the rest of my SPFBO batch to complete and another surprise book that I’d like to fit in this month : Paternus: War of Gods by Dyrk Ashton.  So my next 10 books look something like this:

The Graves of Whitechapel by Claire Evans


The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell


Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


The List by Carys Jones


I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver


The Shadow Friend by Alex North


The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi


Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha


Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz


Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings



Friday Face Off : A Trick of the Eye


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

A trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

I had a couple of books in mind for this week’s theme but in keeping with my desire to keep using my most recent reads I’ve gone with The Whisper Man by Alex North. I enjoyed this one.  My review is here and I have The Shadow Friend lined up to read in July.  Here are the covers:

My favourite:

I like the first cover with the butterfly that when you look closer is actually a handprint.  I also like the butterfly with the skull – but I’m a little odd like that.  I think my favourite though is:


On the face of it a butterfly wing but when you zoom in, bones and skulls are the substance of the wing.

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know 😀

Next week – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  


10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Shadow Friend by Alex North.  I enjoyed The Whisper Man so look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next.  And I love the description.  Take a peek:

TheShadowFriendIf it had happened to you, you would have run away too.

Twenty-five years ago, Paul’s friend Charlie Crabtree brutally killed their classmate – and then vanished without a trace.

Paul’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened. He’s never gone back home.

Until his elderly mother has a fall. It’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. His mother claims there’s someone in the house. Paul realises someone is following him. And, in a town many miles away, a copycat killer has struck.

Which makes him wonder – what really happened to Charlie the day of the murder?

And can anyone stop it happening again?

Expected publication : July 2020