[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
I enjoyed the story of this father in search of his missing daughter, when everyone else is brushing this off as ‘she’s an adult, she must’ve gone with a boyfriend, she’ll surface again later’. In itself, it’s a sad illustration of how people can sometimes be very callous and not pay attention to others, including Jayce himself, who acknowledged that he hadn’t been very close to Emory and wants to find her in part because he’s feeling guilty about neglecting her.
The world of Shadow was also fascinating, in a (gruesome) way: a catalogue of all that can go twisted in people, but given a sort of physical shape. This made for a weird read, with gory and sexual depictions at times, the latter diving at times into the very disturbing—for instance, when Jayce finds a sex toy in Emory’s bedroom, or that specific flashback when he goes home and finds her in the basement: the whole sexual angle intruding in a father/child relationship cranked up the creepy factor fairly high here, and I can’t say I’m comfortable with that. This ties well into the horror part, though, but let’s just say one has better steel themselves against it. For me, it was disturbing (= sex conflated with parent/child) rather than horrific (= it didn’t scare me).
From a storytelling point of view, I had trouble with the timeline: the whole plot unfolds over less than two days (if you except the flashbacks), and I felt that this was too short for Jayce to go from ‘don’t know jack to Shadow’ to ‘oh one more disturbing thing… m’kay, let’s go on’. I also guessed pretty early what the big twist would be, so I wasn’t surprised at all when that was confirmed.
All in all, what I enjoyed most here was the world of Shadow itself, in all its bizarre glory.
Conclusion: 3 stars