Cover Image: The Shadow People

The Shadow People

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Member Reviews

“The Shadow People was a sinister race of doppelgangers, plants sent to spy on us from netherworlds and report back.  The Shadow People were forever lurking on the peripheral, shape-shifting entities ever present and eternally vigilant. Few saw them. Only the “enlightened” could process their existence. Then once you saw them, you couldn’t ignore them; they were everywhere.”


In Joe Clifford’s latest book, well-adjusted Brandon Cossey is looking forward to graduating SUNY college and relocating to Syracuse University for graduate school. He finally decides to try to date Samantha Holahan and is surprised to learn that she knows him and is willing to even talk to him.  Unfortunately, before the relationship can get started, he gets called home when the woman who adopted him is worried that her son Jacob, Brandon’s former best friend, is missing.  Jacob has had a history of schizophrenia and his mother is concerned that he may have stopped taking his medicine. Brandon is unable to help and returns to his college town. Soon after, Jacob is found dead of apparent suicide.  Brandon reads some of the strange ezines that Jacob has been writing about various outrageous ideas including about Shadow People that only he and a few other see and understand how they were secretly influencing everything. (Reminds me somewhat of QAnon.) Jacob’s grandfather Francis, who also apparently has schizophrenia and talks about strange happenings, decides to investigate his grandson’s death, not believing it’s a suicide. Brandon’s not sure about Francis but decides to help and travel along with him to the place where Jacob was found dead.

During this trip, Brandon starts listening to Francis, who is convinced much of what Jacob wrote about is true and may have led to Jacob’s death.  Brandon doubts his prior beliefs and even what he knows about his own past. He begins to wonder about what he sees around him and what really is the truth.  This makes for a strange and interesting adventure.

This is the fifth novel I’ve read by Joe Clifford and the first standalone.  I’ve read the first four Jay Porter books and they are some of my favorites. Those books are much darker so this one with the happy (at least initially) and confused Brandon was definitely a different style.  The writing of course was very good in The Shadow People, but I didn’t enjoy the story nearly as much.  I guess it’s finally time to read the last one in the Joe Porter series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Polis Books for providing me a copy of this book for this honest review.
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The Shadow People by Joe Clifford is a dark and depressing tale. I mean that in the best way possible! Brandon is about to finish college when he gets a call from his best friend, Jacob's mom, to ask for help in finding Jacob. It seems Jacob has mental problems and always goes off his meds and disappears...but never for this long. Brandon feels obligated to help because Jacob's mom took him in as a child and let him live there with them. 
I don't want to give too much of the plot away. Just know this is a crazy and original plot and I think most people will enjoy this book. I've said it before, Joe Clifford has a way with writing books that immerse me completely in the world of the story. The descriptions of place and character are done so well that I really know these people and the town. Don't miss this one!
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When Brandon Casey learns that his childhood bestfriend, Jacob, has committed suicide, he is sad but not surprised. Jacob suffered from schizophrenia and has always existed outside of society's norm. But when he goes home for the funeral,  Brandon learns just how crazy Jacob was.
  Strange handmade magazines, found in Jacob's bedroom, talk about conspiracy theories and Shadow People that live amoung us. Stranger yet, is that Jacob's body  was found states away, and only identifiable by his teeth. 
   Who else knew about Jacob's crazy ideas, and did he die because of them? Brandon doesn't want to get sucked into Jacob's insanity,  but finds he has no choice..


I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It claims to be a psychological thriller, but I don't agree that it is. Its not supernatural nor is it really a thriller.  It mostly crazy rantings that go around in circles. Not what I was expecting.
  I found the storyline to be too much, and not going anywhere. The ending seems to be thrown together to explain the madness.  A lot of the story is rabbit holes that lead no where. 
  If the Story was about Brandon's childhood, and how he ended up with Jacob's family,  it could have been really interesting. The truth about Brandon's childhood was the only thing that got me excited. 
  I wish this book was so much more then it was.
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Brandon is about ready to embark to graduate school when his childhood friend, Jacob, dies. Jacob has had numerous psychotic episodes in his life. But, circumstances surrounding his death just do not add up to suicide.

Brandon and Jacob’s estranged grandfather, Francis, start their own investigation. Francis also has psychotic episodes, basically because he refuses treatment for schizophrenia. Brandon finds himself in a whole different situation than he ever imagined. With shadow people, strange happenings and even murder, Brandon must fight for his life to find the truth.

I love a story which has me guessing all the way through. This one definitely keeps you on your toes! I swear…this story is part horror and part psycho thriller. Add in all these unusual characters and you have a great tale! I think this is Joe Clifford’s best novel yet!

Need a story that is twisted and unique…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley, author Joe Clifford, and Polis Books publishing for giving me a free arc copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
4 stars
Who are the shadow people? 
This book was a roller coaster ride of crazy! I had no idea what I was reading during most of this book. I kept asking myself "Are the shadow people real? Is there some mass hysteria outbreak? Were the characters dreaming? Were the shadow people part of the after life? Was the grandfather some sort of conspiracy theorist? A government coverup?  An unreliable narrator? All these questions and more plagued my mind as I was taken deeper into the rabbit hole that is this story. Brandon Cossey started out as a sensible and  likeable guy, but as he began to look into the deaths of his friend and other, his personality began to change from being aggressive towards a girl he likes and then his personality would switch again. It kind of gave me whip lash. The other characters were just as interesting and well developed. This book sucked me in and would not let me go. I had to read this book during the day because the idea of shadow people freaked me out!  The writing took me a little bit to get used to. I am really not a fan of first person narrative, but it really worked for this book. The big reveal was excellent and I definitely did not see coming. Overall, this book was a great read and I will have to read it again to see how some of the parts I did not quite understand came together at the end. This was my first book by this author and it will not be my last! I look forward to reading more new releases by this author! I would recommend this book to those who are fans of "The Whisper Man" and other domestic thrillers.
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I was provided a free copy of this text by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This was a disappointment of a novel. I was interested in the story from the preview provided, but it seems the entire plot was muddled. I hope Clifford will rewrite the ending
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Great story! Joe Clifford sent me an ARC copy of this one and i have to say he keeps going. This one has more suspense in it than most of his others. The Shadow People delivers on many fronts, has suspense, some mystery and crime elements and some gritty drug use. Also gives us a glimpse into Schizophrenia and what it would be like to either have it or a family member have it. Brandon's brother Jacob has it and is a kind of conspiracy nut, so when Jacob is murdered Brandon has to figure out what is real or what is just Jacob's conspiracys kicking in. I loved the book, as i have all of Clifford's novels, has such a real feel to them. Keep delivering great reads Joe and ill keep on buying them. Thanks for the signed ARC!!
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3 for neutral.  Cannot get it to download properly.    Will update if able to get it to download and read!
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Loved the cover. Found it to be a good book full of twists and turns, a strong story and good believable characters
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Thanks so much to Netgalley, Joe Clifford & Polis Books for the advance digital copy of The Shadow People. Having read several of this authors books before, & I couldn't wait to read this new one. This is my honest review.
This is not a book to skim, it is to relish, to ponder, to soak in the feelings, emotions, atmosphere and humanity. It was deep, meaningful, thoughtful, gritty, compelling & the best I've read from Mr. 
Clifford yet.
Mr. Clifford immersed me in Brandon's character as a complex college student on a quest to uncover the truth about the death of his childhood schizophrenic friend, Jacob. The story explores this at breakneck speed with unexpected outcomes.
The crusty character of Francis added even more intrigue and suspense.
The shadow people will stay with you long past bedtime. I couldn't stop reading and highly recommend., 4.5 stars!
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Brandon Cossey is finishing his last semester as an undergrad when he learns his childhood best friend, Jacob Balfour, has committed suicide. The news about Jacob, who had long battled schizophrenia, does not come as a surprise―but the bizarre details surrounding his death do. Jacob was found several states away, in a quarry, burned alive. 

When Jacob’s estranged grandfather, Francis, who also suffers from schizophrenia (but chooses to go untreated), arrives for the funeral, he tells Brandon that Jacob didn’t kill himself; Jacob stumbled upon a secret so deadly he was murdered to keep it quiet. Soon afterwards, Brandon’s life takes a turn for the strange.

At times part horror and at others part crime/thriller this book had me confused yet thoroughly intrigued. I started reading this with a firm notion it was a horror based around conspiracy theories, little green men and ghosts we cannot see, but like the message Clifford is trying to present, not everything is as straightforward as it seems.

Touching on themes of mental health, abuse, addiction, family dynamics, crime and poverty this novel has genuine grasp and creates empathy for the host of characters. 

My only qualm is that at times the storyline (whilst trying to be clever and keep you off the scent of what was really happening) was sometimes convoluted and hard to follow. 

An unexpected ending (but not a bad one) this one definitely had me guessing and questioning absolutely everything from start to finish! 

#bookreviewsbymrsc #theshadowpeople #joeclifford
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The Shadow People plays on your paranoia. Every minute of doubt influences your next steps. Brandon, a seemingly average kind of guy, gets swept up into uncertainty after his pseudo-brother, Jacob, goes missing. It had been a while since he interacted with the guy but nonetheless, Brandon heads back home to visit the only stable home he's ever known. Brandon is greeted by Lori, his second mom and Jacob's actual mom, and her daughter Chloe when he gets to the house and it doesn't take long for him to start poking around. Jacob's life is far different from the way Brandon had seen it going last, so when he notices that he has leaned into these conspiracy theories a lot more he can't help but brush this off. Things start getting weird now that Brandon knows a little too much and when Jacob's body is found, Brandon's paranoia heightens. Was it murder? Was it an accident? What happened to his long-time friend? What secrets linger in the shadows you don't pay attention to?

I didn't know if I liked this as I was reading it. This idea of 'the shadow people' creeped me out and I thought I would have been much more on edge than I actually was. When I figured out that this story was playing on paranoia and had played around with conspiracy theorists, I was super intrigued. I find conspiracy theories interesting on my own, but watching YouTube videos of people who dedicate so much time and energy to proving some of the wildest ones is concerning but also really fascinating. I thought that the book would translate the same way but it didn't. I was never really on edge, I was mostly confused the whole time. Maybe that was the point? Maybe the uncertainty is meant to make me, the reader, paranoid alongside our main character. If you look at this book through that kind of lens then I think you'll find it much more enjoyable. 

The Shadow People could've had this like Donnie Darko-ness to it and it just didn't. I felt like I was reading the story of the actual story and it skipped a lot of interesting details. It had the vibes of the old prayer "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" but again, I wanted to be thrilled! I wanted it to kind of spook me, and it did none of those things. I'd give this like 2.5/5 stars.
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The Shadow People by. Joe Clifford
Rating: 5 stars

Summary: A young man with a sad history and semi adopted family is notified his best friend is missing. Jacob is also extremely mentally ill. After they find him dead a thousand miles away in Minnesota under bizarre circumstances he goes on a quest to find the Shadow People.

Comments: Clifford again goes in a different direction with his writing into the mystical genre with a ton of suspense built in. Think Dean Koontz with some steroids shot into the story. Great stuff
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I received a gifted copy (via Net Galley) and am providing a review. Publishing July 13, 2021. 

This certainly proved to be an interesting read, one that I may have to go back and read again to get the full impact. Mr. Clifford has written this in a different style, a lot of narrative, but that is the way Brandon Cossey has to tell his story, with a few twists and turns along the way. The ending was totally unexpected.

Jacob, Brandon’s long-time friend, seems to have gotten himself in a bit of trouble by writing a zine called “Illuminations.” Brandon figured it was just a bunch of crazy talk, but was it? Francis, Jacob’s grandfather who was banished from the family, decided to go on a quest to find out what happened to Jacob, make his peace. Brandon found himself tagging along. While on this venture, they ran into some pretty seedy characters, but in the end Brandon found the answers he was looking for.

After reading this book, here are a couple of questions to ponder: Are there really Shadow People, and does the color blue exist?
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I couldn’t get into the story. The synopsis grabbed my attention and I was hoping to be gripped by the story but I felt like Brandon was all over the place. It was hard to fully absorbed the plot and all the rest of what was going on.
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The Shadow People by Joe Clifford was compelling enough for me to want to continue reading it, but once I had finished it, unfortunately,  I can't really say that I enjoyed it or would recommend it to anyone. 

The story seemed to wander around aimlessly and other than the first few chapters and the last few chapters, were not even necessary or added to the story. I also found the constant pop culture references annoying and totally distracting to the story. 

I have read most of Joe Clifford's books and found many of them enjoyable, but sadly, this one was not up to par.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Polis for the opportunity to read an ARC for Shadow People. 

One of the aspects that drew me into Shadow People is the idea not just of supernatural body snatchers, but rather the idea of those of us living on the fringe of society or in the throes of mental illness are relegated to the shadows at best, especially when we aren’t able to mask enough to fit in. 

The novel begins with the seemingly normal Brandon Cossey trying to get up the urge to ask out a girl. He’s had a crush on her all semester and it’s his last chance. He’s slightly self-deprecating and definitely feels familiar — like that guy in high school everyone knows who he is but no one really knows him personally. Then, Brandon gets a call that sets him on a path that will change the way he looks at the world forever. 

Brandon’s childhood friend and pseudo brother, Jacob, is missing. Brandon immediately drives a couple hours to Utica to support Jacob’s mom even though this isn’t the first time he’s gone missing. Jacob has schizophrenia and frequently stops taking his medications, which leads him to go off grid for at most a few hours or overnight — never several days. 

Brandon feels guilty, worried something bad has happened to his once best friend. They grew up together and due to Brandon’s screwed up family, Jacob’s mom took him in as one of her own. Brandon found his rhythm, graduated high school, and is pursuing an advanced degree. Jacob got kicked out of high school for his violent outbursts and likely never even got his GED. The two different paths these boys take remind me of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken. Thus far, Brandon has followed the road of least resistance while Jacob has taken a darker, lonelier walk into paranoia and conspiracy theories. 

While Brandon visits Mrs. Balfour, he checks out the room his friend still lives in at 23. It’s a mixture of the past when Jacob was a boy and of a present where it’s clear Jacob is not on his meds. He stumbled upon Jacob’s zine, Illuminations, which gives Brandon a look inside the mind of someone he used to call his best friend before his best friend became a pariah, a freak, a weight he never signed up to carry. 

Brandon returns to Cortland, shaken by how disturbed his friend’s mind has become. A few days later, Mrs. Balfour calls again to tell Brandon they’ve found Jacob’s body at the bottom of a quarry in Minnesota. Brandon is struck by grief, guilt, and bewilderment. Jacob had gone off the rails before, but he always came back. Plus, Jacob didn’t even have a car so how did he get 1,000 miles away in just a couple of days? And what in the world was he doing in Minnesota of all places?

Brandon wonders if he hadn’t left, if he’d stayed closer, could he have saved his friend but he believes whatever happened to Jacob was by his own hand. Soon, though, he will meet up with Jacob’s crazy grandfather, Francis, and learn the hard way that “just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you”. 

Buttoned-up Brandon ends up going on one heck of a road trip, both to better understand what happened to his friend and what’s happening to him. He’s losing time. He’s seeing people who aren’t there — or are they? — and his tightly wound life is coming undone. Brandon learns more about himself than he ever expected and he finds the truth, not only about his friend, but also about the Shadow People. 

Joe Clifford writes with ease and a sense of truth that makes it feel like he’s known a few Brandons and Jacobs in his life, which makes the story all the more interesting. He’s blunt, descriptive, and layered in his storytelling, which puts you there with Brandon as he ventures down a rabbit hole that leads to a place much worse than any Wonderland he’s known. 

Sometimes the truth is a bitter pill, and Joe Clifford’s Shadow People is full of truth both in his characters and in the multi-faceted storyline — a caustic but much-needed commentary on those of us who live in the light and the rest of us, for whatever reason (drugs, mental illness, poverty, etc.), who don’t. I couldn’t put Shadow People down, so I highly recommend it for anyone interested in a twisty, crazy story that’s part whodunnit and part self-discovery.
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I didn't like it...
The book was written well, the author has a way with his words, but the plot was really underwhelming and lacking in many aspects, the sequence of events was really slow paced and by the time the author decided to add the twist to the mix, it was too late to salvage the storyline.
The lead character was a cool one, that and the writing were the only reasons why I managed to go through the whole deal.
Brandon was quirky, and he delivered a really good narrative style, it felt like i was there in his mind throughout the book which was nice.
Overall, i don't recommend it.
*I received an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review via netgalley and the publisher*
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I wanted to read this book because it sounded just like the type of books I enjoy; those with a twist at the end. What I got was not that. Sure a twist at the end but the build-up was slow and lacked something more. The main character's struggle was interesting when it came to his insight and understanding of mental health. But other than that there was not much that I liked with this book sorry to say.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview The Shadow People by Joe Clifford.  
I immediately was hooked by this book - Wriiten in first person, you are in the head of a young man who learns his best friend is missing.  Meet Brandon whose voice is vivid and urgent - and who suddenly realizes his life is going to change drastically.
Brandon lives with his best friend, Jacob and his family in upper New York.  Brandon has lived with them since he was a child. He was abandoned by his family and Jacob's family took him in.  Jacob was his best friend up until the time he went off the rails.  Since then Brandon and Jacob have been estranged.   Strange things begin to happen to Brandon and get worse when Jacob's body is discovered in Minnesota.  
Brandon's quest to find out what happened to Jacob lead him on a shadowy road where Brandon starts to question his own sanity.  When he starts seeing shadows, he knows that something or someone is following him and they mean him harm.
This is a quick and fun read.  I really liked it.  4 stars - Recommend.
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