By Mark Steensland and Charles Colyott
Published by Nightworms
Available: September 2020
Amazon Link: N/A (Visit www.nightworms.com instead)
Prior to receiving Shadow Vista from Steensland, I had just read another one of his recent collaborations, Coffin Shadows. Before that, it was In the Scrape (one of my favorite stories of 2019). I also have Jimmy the Freak (also written alongside Colyott), but have not gotten around to it just yet. The point is, I have read Steensland a couple other times and have always enjoyed his work. In fact, upon reading Coffin Shadows, I mentioned to Steensland I wanted to get my hands on Shadow Vista next somehow – which was only available in a previously released Nightworms book box – and he was kind enough to send me over a copy. Clocking in at just under a hundred pages, I quickly devoured this thriller over the course of several breaks at work.
Shadow Vista takes place in a subdivision that lays unused and unfinished, due to a lack of funds to complete its construction. As the homes continue to gather dust, Shadow Vista is guarded by a small group called Tin Star Security Service, which mostly consists of workers too lazy to separate from their phones long enough to walk the lots. However, there is Zacahry and Sam working the swing shift, and they actually do their jobs. Unfortunately, things quickly get complicated and dangerous when it’s discovered that someone is using the subdivision as their own personal graveyard for victims.
As I previously tagged this one, Shadow Vista is a thriller novella with a bit of mystery, romance, humor, and suspense. The mystery is easy to unravel and the romance is completely expected, but the humor and suspense shine throughout. The final act, for example, contains quite a bit of action, all of which plays out quite theatrically – I could easily see this story adapted for television.
Perhaps due to its publishing journey via a book box, the editing seemed a little lacking here. There were some repetitive phrases and generic characters that I would have expected cleaned and shaped up had a professional editor been involved along the way. Of course, I could be wrong that no would worked this manuscript, but the interior credits list no one (aside from thanking the ladies behind Nightworms, which is an awesome subscription service I do recommend for fans of horror and suspense fiction). Though this complaint isn’t a heavy one, I think it’s the root cause behind the negatives I did find while reading this story.
That being said, Shadow Vista is a good and short action flick. It works well as an afternoon rush, and further cements my interest in Steensland (while officially introducing me to Colyott). Soon, I will be reading their previous collaboration, Jimmy the Freak, to see where it all began for them.
Highlights: Theatrical action and suspense, some humorous moments, a great final act, an obvious but enjoyable romance
Shadows: Some repetitive phrasing, uninspired characters, an expected reveal, lack of explanation as to why the killer lays their victims in graves with pillows
For fans of . . . Quick and suspenseful reads, action and crime, Steensland collaborations, Nightworms’ recommendations/projects
Takeaway: Shadow Vista would make an enjoyable film, but could use a bit more substance to solidify its emotional impact
Would I read these authors again? Yes
Review by Aiden Merchant
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