Thursday, April 24, 2014

Psychological Thriller Review: Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus

Casting Shadows EverywhereCasting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great story! Both surprising and clever.

Casting Shadows Everywhere is a story that takes the form of a journal. The narrator is a 15 year old boy called Jake. The opening scene captures an early memory Jake has of his Cousin Nick rescuing him from a bully by nearly choking his attacker to death, a frightening start to a story I entered into without having read the description or any reviews or ratings.

Yes, I went into this one blindly, didn't even know what genre the book was. I do remember jumping over to Smashwords to pick up a copy when the author posted a free coupon on a message board, months ago. I'm always up for a freebee, after all. Anyway, I blindly got my copy, forgot about getting it for a few months and then, coming off a slew of YA fiction, vampires, and romance, came across this one again. The catchy red and black cover, featuring a long shadow, stood out, though the title gave me few clues to what I was in for. So, all that being said, my verdict is this: wow!

I love this story. It combines psychology, thrills, coming of age, and humor into a package that just works. Random asides, musings, wonderings, and sometimes even nonsense pepper the work, as someone would do in a personal journal. I loved every one. The parting entry, in particular, left me in tears from laughing so hard, but humor is only one element of the package.

Jake, the perpetual victim, wants to stand up for himself, but always finds himself backing down. He likes a girl called Beth, but lacks the confidence to connect with her. Overall, he's a pushover, and he knows it. He hates it. Then one day his Cousin Nick offers to give him lessons in confidence. Dangerous lessons. Despite misgivings, Jake keeps coming back, enraptured by the thrill of life and confidence they inspire. He finally stands up for himself, becomes friends with Beth, and learns to believe in himself.

Watching Jake gain confidence, I found myself both cheering him on and worrying about the direction he was taking. His cousin, despite being his rescuer and role model, is amoral, violent and downright scary. Jake's outlook continues to darken and draws you in deeper and deeper into the shadows with him, all building up to one of the most memorable climactic moments I've ever read. I was utterly in shock, mouth hanging open, literally (as in the correct usage of that word). I couldn't believe what I was reading, and I couldn't stop. I had to know what happened, even though I dreaded what seemed the inevitable conclusion.

Overall, I'd say this is a must read for anyone who loves a good psychological thriller with an edge of humor, all delivered in a realistic package. It's not the type of book I normally read, but I loved it. It's been several days since I finished it, and I still find myself musing over it.

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