Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement, and one that I have yet to make. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
Characters: Well-drawn and interesting, for the most part. I found myself caring about what was going to happen to them, and thinking about them in idle moments when I wasn’t reading the book.
Plot: Realistic and believable. Big-money developers eye a bucolic little town in North Carolina, but something is not right. The protagonists are by-God going to get to the bottom of it. I have a spouse who’s the same way.
Settings: Well-detailed. Wendy obviously knows her little southern towns. A suspenseful chase through Washington, DC late in the book shows knowledge that could only come from one who’s been there.
What I thought could’ve been done better: Wendy sometimes lapses into telling, rather than showing, an all too common problem for those of us who work without the benefit of professional editors. When protagonist Will visits the former sheriff’s deserted house, we’re told it was furnished with beautiful paintings, furniture and antiques and that these things were “callously destroyed”.
Wendy could’ve saved the “callously” and showed the actual destruction, and the effect it had on Will. There are a few of these lapses throughout the book, which a good editor would not have let pass.
The “Shadows” of the title are also late in arriving. I never felt the characters were in any danger until almost midway through the book. It’s an author’s job to make trouble for her characters, and the sooner the better.
When the trouble arrived, it was good, but took too long to show its face.
We never got to meet the main bad guy, until the very end of the book, and that wasn’t very satisfactory. Since he was pulling the strings, would’ve liked to have him developed as a character — even just an off-screen character, described by other characters.
What I thought was good: As I mentioned, most characters, plot and setting all done well. Wendy did a good job of pacing the story, and most chapters ended on a cliffhanger note. I liked her writing in active voice and using vivid verbs. The slip of paper was “jammed” into the window frame, rather than “placed” there.
I liked the snappy one-word sentences Wendy used in the beginning of the book — wished she could have continued those.
Good grasp of police procedure. Wendy obviously did her homework.
Overall: So who writes a perfect book? I can recommend “Come the Shadows” as a diverting read and visit to small-town Southern America. Warning: might make you hungry for pie.
Good job, Wendy!
A clear and feathered danger by Noah Murphy
Nephilim Genesis of Evil by Renee Pawlish
Happy literary trails!