Score: 93/100 (9.3 out of 10)
“The Schatten” by Ashley Greathouse is a short little paranormal mystery novel that packs a huge punch!
In as few as 80 pages, the author crafts a story with humor, intrigue, interesting characters, and—above all—mystery. Who or what is the shadowy figure known as the Schatten? Is it a man? A demon? A ghost? A state of mind? A figure of one's imagination that drives even the best of us to kill? What is the mystery behind Lisa's family? What secrets did Grace take with her to the grave after dying from brain cancer? What is the truth behind Lucy's grandfather who served in a Nazi concentration camp? Who are the Ahnerebe and what role did they play under the Third Reich? Who is Dr. Harrison? How old is Lucy? Why does she act like a pouty six-year-old sometimes and a chain-smoking forty-year-old at other times? Has Obi-Wan talked to her about her use of death sticks? What did the dudes like William and Gerald do in this book? Cause we honestly forgot. Why is Bea so annoying? How can we still care about her despite this? Why is the formatting of this book so tight and cool looking?
These questions and more are explored in “The Schatten!”
Let's kick off this review by saying that Greathouse has a tremendous sense of humor and a coolness that oozes from the book from page one—literally page one! The “Copyright/Dedication” page is one of the most amusing and hilarious things we've ever read. Considering we've gone through over a hundred books this year, that's saying a lot! The author's playful sarcasm is immediately apparent, even warning potential content pirates that they are taking dog food away from her dog. The “About the Author” section is similarly blunt and humorous. Amazingly, this tone is not carried into the book itself, showing the author's range. The book is actually quite serious and suspenseful. Death and danger loom around every corner. It's intense!
So let's go over some of the characters while trying not to spoil too much. Lucy seems to be a prodigal daughter/granddaughter who dragged herself through life by her hair. She is brash and pessimistic while not entirely unlikable. We can relate to her bleak outlook. It's how she was conditioned to be. There are a few captivating figures in this like the Shadowman himself and Shelly, who fills the “creepy girl” role found in many horror movies. Believe us when we say that Shelly is CREEPY.
We're even made to care a little for Bea who is badly wounded near the beginning of the story, forcing Lucy (who somewhat despises her) to set aside her differences, creating a rather interesting dynamic between them.
Lucy's dark side is played quite well. That's why we speculated if the Schatten might actually be an alternate persona of hers: one prone to violent, homicidal acts. Indeed, Lucy's hands are far from clean by the end of this. That allows the reader to consider the possibility that THEY (seeing the story through Lucy's eyes) may have been the villain all along.
The writing and formatting in this book are tight. Yes, there are many usages of italics (usually showing Lucy's thoughts) and even capital letters, but it isn't excessive.
All in all, this is a pretty darn good little mystery novel.
Check it out on Amazon!