Don’t worry, lovely people, I have not come out of retirement. As I’d taken on a couple of blog tour commitments before I had to stop reviewing, I reached out to a few wonderful friends who agreed to step in for me and provide reviews in my stead. Today, the brilliant Doomscribe – who can usually be found here – has taken on The Creeper by A.M. Shine. Thank you Doom for your review, and thank you Aries and Head of Zeus for having us and sending us a copy of A.M. Shine’s sophomore horror novel for review.
RELEASE DATE: 15/09/2022
STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Renowned academic Dr Sparling seeks help with his project on a remote Irish village. Historical researchers Ben and Chloe are thrilled to be chosen—until they arrive…
The village is isolated and forgotten. There is no record of its history, its stories. There is no friendliness from the locals, only wary looks and whispers. The villagers lock down their homes at sundown. A nameless fear stalks the streets…
Nobody will talk—nobody except one little girl. Her story strikes dread into the hearts of the newcomers. Three times you see him. Each night he comes closer…
That night, Ben and Chloe see a sinister figure watching them. He is the Creeper. He is the nameless fear in the night. Stories keep him alive. And nothing will keep him away… (from Head of Zeus)
OPINIONS: There’s something undeniably creepy about a quiet, isolated village filled with hostile locals. Two young Irish academics find Tir Mallacht much the same, and it’s when The Creeper leans into these elements that it suckers onto that dark part of the hindbrain. The locals are tight-lipped and evasive, and the clues they do give to their self imposed isolation are increasingly unsettling.
The titular being itself is part of a fairly straightforward memetic curse – if you are told about it, it visits you every night, closer each time you see it. And if you see it three times, the next night you die. I found the description of the Creeper to be, well, creepy, but not quite as terrifying as I imagine it was intended to be. The whole scenario is suitably disturbing, and Shine has a tendency to bask in the details of the scenery.
It felt like one of the themes of the book was scepticism versus superstition – Ben’s exposure to numerous folk tales causes him to push back against the idea of the Creeper. I didn’t find that this was explored to my satisfaction based on how the Creeper itself was presented in the book. I do have to wonder if that’s partly based on assumptions that I brought going in. I also found the final act a little rushed – although ultimately the ending itself worked for me.
There are few overly original elements here, but if you’re looking for an unsettling horror story with a creepy Irish setting, The Creeper is well worth checking out.