This is a first for us: an indie book! And not just any indie book…a mystery! While this book was my pick, it’s definitely more of Matt’s genre. I can’t remember the last mystery I read…The Da Vinci Code? I know, I know. I suck. But romances and women’s fiction power up my heart. That being said, I loved this book. L-O-V-E-D.
Before I get to my thoughts on Where the Shadow Lies, I think it’s important to give some background info. The author of this book, Cassie Sharp, is a newbie to the indie world. First book, people! (Although, as I’ll get to in a moment, you’d never know it.) Second, this author is a PLN, or Passionate Little Nutcase. The immensely talented Tarryn Fisher (we’ll be reviewing one of her books next time) spearheads the PLN Facebook group, which celebrates, encourages, and supports more than 8,000 female and male members. Tarryn, a natural provider and promoter of others, then established a second group for PLN authors. She wanted a safe haven for new and veteran authors, whereby they could discuss projects, ask questions, express doubts, and share advice. This group is a tribe of 649 members—primarily authors but also editors, bloggers, formatters, cover designers, etc. There’s no cattiness, no sense of competition. People just want to help each other succeed.
Cassie is a frequent poster and commenter in the group. She often offers suggestions when questions are asked. She’s also humble and shares her stumbling blocks so that other people can learn from them. After witnessing her positive interactions and hearing a rave review about this book from someone I respect, I knew Where the Shadow Lies would be the perfect first indie for us. And perfect it was.
If I hadn’t known Cassie was a new author, I never would’ve guessed. Her writing was polished, her plot complex, her characters multidimensional, her setting specific. All around, the story was clean and well-developed. But I know what you’re really wondering: WAS IT PREDICTABLE? I can assure you, it was not. Even at 85% I had no idea how the story was going to end. I thought, is she really going to answer all my questions? Will this mystery be solved? What will happen to X, Y, and Z?! I’m so used to figuring out books once I get past the halfway mark, but I could not, for the life of me, figure out how the figurative dust would settle. And while these questions and doubts made me a little uneasy, they also made me really, really excited. I knew that whatever the outcome, I’d be surprised, which is a good thing for any book and the best thing for a mystery.
Because I want everyone to be as surprised as I was by this book, I’m not going to say much about it. I’m not going to divulge any motives. I’m not going to share theories I had. I’m not even going to talk about the characters. I don’t want to give anything away. But I will say this: Cassie does an excellent job of dangling carrots. I would get to the end of a chapter, nearing an answer I craved, when she would shift gears, beginning a new chapter with new questions from a different character’s point of view. So evil! And yet so masterful.
There are a lot of books out there and a lot of new authors. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone and stick with your tried and true, but I encourage you to take a chance with this book, especially if you like books with so many twists and turns, you’re kept at the edge of your seat the entire time.
Have you ever read one of those books and thought to yourself, “How in the hell did someone think this up?” or even, “What the fuck was this person on when they thought of this?” If so, then you are ready to jump head first into the awesomeness that is Where the Shadow Lies.
While Erica had an idea of what this book was going to be about when we started, I did not. All she said was that the author was relatively new and was a PLN. That was all I needed to hear; I was in. I love supporting indie authors.
Perhaps you have heard of the old saying that something (or someone) is like an onion, where you need to peel back the layers to really understand what you are looking at. As I started reading Where the Shadow Lies, I thought that was what the author was doing—giving little bits here and there to help develop the overall picture. Except, just when I thought I had the final layers of onion peeled back, the damn thing turned into a watermelon and started laughing at me.
I love the mystery and suspense genre. I think those kinds of books are fun, but can sometimes be formulaic. More than once, I have found myself predicting how a story will play out before the final pages. Where the Shadow Lies has 50 chapters, which means that I said, “Ah, shit!” at least 49 times, as the story would just start to get to a big reveal, only to have the chapter end and the story shift gears.
Cliffhanger chapter endings are nothing new, but when you find yourself wanting…no, NEEDING…to know more, the end of a chapter leaves only one option—to keep reading. And when you add in the brilliant storytelling and mesmerizing cadence that the author so deftly delivers, that “need” turns into the only viable option left—desperation. The desperation to read just one more chapter. The desperation to know who is to blame. The desperation to know what the hell is actually happening.
And what happens after that? You dream about the characters. For multiple nights, I dreamt of voices, heart-shaped beds, and maniacal laughter.
Now that it’s over, I find myself in a book hangover, missing the characters and the adrenaline rush of each major reveal.
I was floored when I read Erica’s review and found that this is the author’s first book. As Erica mentioned, the characters are unique and complex (my words—I think Erica called them “multidimensional”). But for me, the star of the show is the self-control the author uses in giving bits and pieces of the story in just the right way to make you think you know what’s happening, only to have it twisted on its head.
While this quote was in reference to something specific in the story, I think this is also the perfect theme for how the author must have approached her writing process: “Truth was an illusion. A concept that could be manipulated and influenced by perception and ego. It was a mirage—a beautiful, yet fleeting image with the power to lure and deceive.”
Cassie Sharp is definitely no mirage, and her writing skills are no illusion. This book is fun, well written, and something you should definitely one-click.
An onion that turns into a watermelon—yes! That’s the perfect way to describe this book. LOL!
Reading Matt’s review made me think of something else. I don’t know about you, but I tend to obsess over titles. A title should have meaning. A title should reflect the story. A title should be memorable. This title had all of these qualities. I wasn’t sure when the title was going to come into play, but it did when I least expected it. It was as surprising and impactful as this story. The title baited me. The story hooked me. The end reeled me in. I can’t wait to read what Cassie serves up next!
To purchase a copy of or read the synopsis for Cassie Sharp’s Where the Shadow Lies, click here.