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S.C. Shannon
What Lurks in the Shadows
S.C. Shannon, author
It’s the end of the world and 20-year-old Grace has a front row seat. What was once a carefree suburban life has become a daily struggle to survive, and the days are spent preparing for whatever might come next. Just as Grace and her family begin to adjust to their new, post-apocalyptic normal, a much more terrifying threat emerges, and survival is quickly replaced with just trying to stay alive. Told from two points in time leading up to one epic showdown, this twisty, page-turning, and terrifying account of a modern apocalypse is a ride readers will not soon forget.
Shannon’s debut, an apocalyptic YA thriller with elements of horror, science-fiction, and romance, follows 20-year-old Grace Baker as she faces the end of the world as they know it in a cabin in the woods. The story starts in Los Angeles, not far from the present day, as a series of summer blackouts that the authorities either can’t or won’t explain roll across the country. As people start to panic, Grace and her family make their way to their remote cabin outside of Lake Tahoe, where everything is pretty normal––except for no power––until the monsters come. Between zombie-like humans and invisible monsters, Grace has her work cut out for them, just trying to survive, much less save the world. Everything seems impossible until Nick Gates, a friend from “before,” shows up. Will they be able to solve this mystery together––before one of them is killed?

Shannon delivers a mystery-thriller that’s gory and scary but suitable for teens, focused at heart on two individuals experiencing––for all they know––the end of everything. Shannon presents the story in two timelines, allowing readers to track Grace’s character before and after the monsters appear. The main characters feel well-thought out and full, and the dialogue is often strong. However, the side characters, usually villains, lack depth and tend to end up dead quickly.

The choice to call the zombie-like humans “savages”––which Grace notes is not “politically correct” before concluding “there is no other way to describe them”––will prove unacceptable to some readers and demonstrates a missed opportunity to imagine something more fresh. Those creatures ultimately don’t prove crucial to the overall plot, which turns instead on secret military experiments, the conscience of Grace’s own father, and a hopeful revelation when past and present twine together. But what lingers are the scenes of wilderness and apocalypse survival, the relationship with Nick, and the terror of not knowing how bad it all will get.

Takeaway: A YA apocalypse with monsters, romance, military secrets, and the horror and adventure of surviving.

Great for fans of: P. A. Glaspy’s When the Power is Gone, Emma H. Frost’s Into the Dark.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B