The Monsters in our Shadows
by Edward J Cembal
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 15 Dec 2023
Edward J Cembal, Tempus Press
It’s been a century since “the great consumption.” Humanity has been devoured to the edge of extinction by the ever-ravenous Shivers – terrifying, shapeless creatures that latch onto their hosts, tormenting them over time before consuming them all at once. The last of civilization lives in the crumbling city of Atlas, where they subsist on processed insects and await their inevitable fate.
Anthem is the city Exilist, tasked with trapping the Shivers and banishing them to the malevolent Deadlands outside the city walls. But Anthem is ailing and destined to soon fall victim to his own Shiver, a fate he’s reluctantly accepted. As Anthem begins to withdraw from his world, a threat he’s unprepared for comes hurtling home. If he is to save anyone, he will have to travel into the Deadlands in search of a remedy to tame these creatures. But no Atlas dweller has ever made it back alive, and Anthem must confront his own darkness before humankind is forever lost to the monsters in our shadows.
“This is dystopian fiction at its finest.” - Readers Favorite 5 Stars
“The Monsters in Our Shadows is one of the most riveting books I’ve ever read. A near-perfect read… a level of grit and fascination that horror fans will appreciate… a good
mix of horror and sci-fi.” - Independent Book Review
“I recommend The Monsters in our Shadows to anyone who loves dystopian novels, nightmarish creatures, and anyone who isn’t afraid to face the truth of the demons that hide not only inside our minds but also in our shadows.” - Readers Favorite 5 Stars
“Edward J Cembal’s debut novel, The Monster in our Shadows is an incredible piece of speculative fiction. From the very first page I was on the edge of my seat... a powerful commentary on mental illness… when we refuse to acknowledge the darker parts of our mind, the shadows grow and fester till the darkness consumes us from the inside out… A skilfully written and powerful allegory that will keep you ravenous for more till the very last page. I cannot recommend this book enough.” - Netgalley Review
Taken metaphorically, I think it's an interesting concept that traumatic events in our lives can devour us or--when shared-- even make us stronger as a group. Tragedy can bond people together, and I think often times, the strongest people are those who are able to overcome the struggles they face. There's also a message that you can't really ignore the bad things; sometimes hiding the pain does more damage. -Netgalley Review
“This dystopian story is done perfectly… absolutely a book worth picking up!” - Netgalley Review
“Skillfully written, it kept me on my toes, there's not a moment when you'll feel relaxed, as the action is nonstop. I can't recommend this novel enough.” - Netgalley Review
“We all have personal “monsters in our shadows” – Cembal masterfully translates that horrific reality into a stunning novel.” - Netgalley Review
“Wow. Just wow.” - Netgalley Review
“One of the best books I have read this year.” - Netgalley Review
“...a fun, fast-paced, horrifically wonderful, action packed book!” - Netgalley Review
“In a post-apocalyptic future, a dystopian society hangs on against a terrifying new breed of creature - the Shivers, within the faltering walls of Atlas. The story follows Anthem, the city's Exilist, an unenviable job. Full of baited breath and just the right amount of dread, this is a great horror pick for anyone hankering for something to follow Jonathan Maberry, Josh Malerman or Stephen Graham Jones.” - Netgalley Librarian Review
“I love this book” - Netgalley Review
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 124 members
In a post-apocalyptic future, a dystopian society hangs on against a terrifying new breed of creature - the Shivers, within the faltering walls of Atlas. The story follows Anthem, the city's Exilist, an unenviable job. Full of baited breath and just the right amount of dread, this is a great horror pick for anyone hankering for something to follow Jonathan Maberry, Josh Malerman or Stephen Graham Jones.
I received this as an ARC to rate and review. This is my honest feedback.
This novel was such a fun, fast-paced, horrifically wonderful, action packed book! I don't want to spoil anything for anyone by saying too much but I was on the edge of my seat the entire book. I finished this in just a few short hours and could not put it down! I highly suggest going into this one without knowing too much as I feel you will get the most out of it that way. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC to read and review.
One of the best books I have read this year. I honestly enjoyed it very much and glad that I made the decision to read this.
The monsters in our shadows offered me thrilling experience with a touch of horror and existential crisis that I crave sometimes. The darkness in this flowing and emotional storytelling fed the dark parts of my soul, made me experience something that I wouldn't want to in real life. I loved all the pain and madness our main character Anthem went through and cheered him all the way to the end. I appreciate the writer for giving us somehow good ending in this horrible universe.
The writing style and the character depth as well as the storytelling made me addicted to this book. I recommend this book to everyone who likes darkness and adventure in their books. 5/5 masterpiece!
I posted this review in Goodreads as well!
We all have personal “monsters in our shadows” – Cembal masterfully translates that horrific reality into a stunning novel
The Monsters in our Shadows is written by Edward J Cembal. Thank you to the author for providing me with an Advance Readers Copy for review. The book is due to be published on February 28th, 2023, and is his first novel. Cembal is a Canadian Author who toured as a musician before a diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy. He subsequently dove into writing that explores existential horrors—to all of our benefit if this book is any indication.
Imagine if you were stalked by a monster every day. One that was focused solely on you and that you knew would eventually kill you, no matter what you did. That's life in Atlas…….the last human settlement.
Anthem is the city's “Exilist”. He has the dangerous and thankless job of trapping the monsters and banishing them to the deadlands outside the city's protective walls. The lives of every person in the city rest in his hands. Anthem has his own problems too, and a daughter to protect. He finds himself unprepared for the new challenge thrust upon him, one with life-and-death consequences for him, his daughter, and all of humanity.
Wow. Just wow,
I enjoyed everything about this book. It is beautifully written. Has great character development. Makes you care for the city, its inhabitants, and their survival.
It also introduces a new horrific kind of monster (at least for me). One that is tied directly to each individual. That lives with you. That stalks you every day—each day getting just a bit closer. A monster that others can see but ignore at best or shun you at worst. One that literally eats you alive.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to highlight the somewhat obvious symbolism here (again, at least for me) that we all have monsters. Things we hide that eat at us and will consume us completely if we don’t find a way to deal with them or get help with them. It could be depression, mental illness, disability, loneliness, or even just long-harbored secrets. It could be a multitude of things. The author creates a whole society that is driven by this concept and does so in a wonderfully horrific and dystopian way.
Anthem, the protagonist, is a great and well-written character. His heart, drive, and moral compass showing strongly even as he battles his own shadows and self-doubt. Cembal's ability to paint a picture of the city, the “deadlands” and the horrors (and beauty) of each fantastic, especially for a first novel.
Dystopian, science fiction, paranormal, horror, and mystery all skillfully wrapped up in a bow allowing the reader to self-identify with that story. Extraordinary!
Read it. Preorder it. Get it. Read it.
You will not be disappointed.
5 Monstrous Shadowy Stars
I really enjoyed this book! We all carry monsters with us and have to find a way to live with them. The journey Anthem goes through in these pages was a kaleidoscope of emotions that kept me turning pages. This book was scary but not necessarily in a "Horror" type of way. Living with these monsters has a real effect mentally on the residents of Atlas. Amazing world building and a real sense of dread at "The End" of the world. I recommend giving this book a shot. Especially if you enjoy scary books with deep meaning.
“The deep black horror folded itself in stuttering movements until it was pressed up against the ceiling directly above Miss Juliet Daniels. It couldn’t wait much longer; it needed to consume.”
This story is phenomenal, and I was lucky to have my first read of 2023 be a 5 ⭐️ review.
I am extremely impressed with this book. The whole thing played out like a movie and had your emotions going left and right. There were numerous twists throughout the book that took you deeper and deeper into this post-apocalyptic world and the monsters who inhabited it.
I need this book on my shelf when it is released, and I HIGHLY encourage you give this one a read if you are considering it.
Thanks NetGalley for the ARC, and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for some more Edward J Cembal books in the future!
I received an ARC copy of this book, this is an honest review.
I went into this book knowing a little bit about it, but I did not know the actual plot line and wow... When Shivers devour people when it is their time to die, its tragic and gripping and sad.. but when they come after one of your own... the stakes are higher. This book wont disappoint and I will be very surprised if it is not one of the finalists for Goodreads choice awards this year!
I don't normally read alot of Sci Fi fiction but this was a wonderfully action packed and fast paced read! There never seemed to be a slow or dull moment and this book kept me on the edge of my seat. I would definitely read more from this author in the future!
An action packed adventure in an apocalyptic world filled with horror. Adult themes and weaved with messages for managing your nightmares. I loved it on so many levels…
A story where our shadows are the enemy and our minds might be even worse. The people of Atlas have survived the unimaginable but just barely. All of them are waiting around at the drop of a hat to be next. That's where our MC Anthem comes in. This story was such a refreshing and original take on the usual dystopian post-apocalyptic genre. I didn't want to put it down and when I had to I was immediately ready to go pick it back up. It's fast-paced and action-packed in the best of ways and you really are taken along for the ride with Anthem as he has to decide within himself whether his morals outweigh the easy choices everyone else wants to make. The simplicity of the twists and turns the author gives us only adds to our story. I can't wait to reread this book once it's released.
I am blown away by this debut novel by Edward Cembal. It was such an amazing, fast paced speculative fiction novel.
High level this is a dystopian horror sci-fi speculative fiction. It follows Anthem an excilist for the last city on earth Anthem. The world has ended after the great consumption, when these shadow creatures appeared.
For some reason random people are afflicted and have a shadow monster following them until it finally has to feed (eat the person). This is where Anthem plays a role and helps others reach the next stage of life and essentially exiled to what's known as the dead lands. This story sets up with this information and then Anthem is later sent on a mission to find more medicine to help the inflicted.
From the very beginning of this book it had me captured and I couldn't wait to see where it went next. It never really let up or had slow spots. This book is uncomfortable and graphic with the monsters at times but I was there for it. It's tastefully done.
Beyond this being a monster dystopian book the core of this book is a take and look into mental illness. How we can feel like we are being devoured by anxiety, depression, stress etc and that there is no way out, for some of us this is something that will always be there and have to know how to cope with it. Keep it in check before it's too late.
My favorite phrase that came up multiple times in this book was "the other side of what you're going thru could be one step away. Take the step. Keep going."
I would highly recommend this book to at fans of horror, dystopian or sci fi. It's so well done and I look forward to what Cembal does next,
Thank you to NetGalley and Edward Cembal for this advance reader copy. My review is voluntarily my own.
I will be posting my review on my Instagram page the.Floofs.booknook and retail sites on or near publication date
Civilisation has collapsed. The last city, Atlas, is all that remains of the human race after "the consumption". The soil is barren, insects becoming the main food source as everything else has died out. The dwindling population lives in denial of the monsters that haunt their very existence, that feed on their fears and insecurities, growing in the shadows. Always keep smiling, do not look at them, do not acknowledge them, let no one see your fear lest the Reaper Exile you to the Deadlands.
In the city at the end of the world, the remnants of humanity are afflicted by monsters called Shiver’s, things that grow from our shadows, ever hungry, waiting for the moment to devour their host. A drug called Felixodine keeps them at bay for a while, till the inevitable happens. That’s where Anthem comes in. Anthem is Atlas’s Exilist, known and hated by the rest of the population as The Reaper. It’s his job to be there when the afflicted’s time comes, and ensure a painless end. Pamphlets tell the citizens of Atlas of a world outside the walls, where the afflicted can live in peace, their monsters untethered - the pamphlets are a lie and ignorance is bliss. But Anthem seeks the truth. Why is it that we are plagued with these monsters, can life truly not survive outside the walls of Atlas, and is there a way to defeat the Shivers and kill them once and for all?
Edward J Cembal’s debut novel, The Monster in our Shadows is an incredible piece of speculative fiction. From the very first page I was on the edge of my seat, what fresh new hell was Anthem going to face next? Cembal’s quite masterfully weaves together dystopian, horror and science fiction and asks us to dig deep down and confront the monsters that terrorise the darkest recesses of our minds: depression, anxiety, paranoia, loneliness, amongst many others. The society of Atlas is teetering on the edge of destruction, where admitting the existence of any of those feelings means expulsion from the civilised world.
The Monsters in Our Shadows is a powerful commentary on mental illness. Along Anthem’s journey to discover the truth, he wrestles with his own monsters, both literal and metaphorical. Just like the Shiver’s, when we refuse to acknowledge the darker parts of our mind, the shadows grow and fester till the darkness consumes us from the inside out.
A skilfully written and powerful allegory that will keep you ravenous for more till the very last page. I cannot recommend this book enough, please, I urge you, preorder this book (from your local independent bookstore), gift it to a friend, suggest it to your bookclub!
Atlas is the last city left, and within it people live in fear of the Shivers - monsters who lurk in a person’s shadow and eventually devour them. Anthem is an Exilist, the man tasked with taking those poor souls outside the city’s wall before they get eaten and their Shiver escapes into Atlas. Anthem knows his own end is coming soon and in seeking out a way to stop the Shivers, he ends up on the wrong side of the wall.
This dystopian story is done perfectly, it is fast paced and crafted to keep the reader engaged and excited to continue. I love finding this type of book, where a debut author has done so well that I just want more and more from them. This is absolutely a book worth picking up!
Note: ARC kindly provided in exchange for honest review.
I actually liked this book wayyyyy more than I thought I was going to! I don’t even know where to begin! Sci Fi horror types of books are real hit or miss for me, but this nailed it. The descriptions of the shivers was horrifying and amazing. The post-apocalyptic meets zombie apocalypse vibe kept me wanting to know more about what lives outside the wall. There were so many different elements and all of them were executed perfectly. I felt like I was living through Anthem and experiencing all the horrors and beauties of the world through him. I caught on to the link to depression very early on, but it worked flawlessly with this story and was such an amazing metaphor for the mental health struggles that many face. That depression can often feel like a monster that is slowly consuming you until there is nothing left. I truly can’t say enough good things about this book. Thank you to NetGalley for sending me this ARC, it will be available on February 28th please please read it.
[Blurb goes here]
In a dystopian future, only one city remains. Hidden behind a wall that reaches the skies, Atlas has a constantly declining number of citizens. Nothing much grows in the soil of Atlas. Insects are an important part of their diet.
Anthem is the Exilist for the dwindling population. His job is not an easy one. While most think that the pamphlets speak the truth, and something wonderful awaits the exiled outside the wall, Anthem believes that, for them, ignorance is bliss: some of the people living in the small, and ruined city are attached to a Shiver. Giving the afflicted a numbing substance called Felixodine, will keep the monsters at bay, but not indefinitely. Anthem's responsibility is to Exile the tormented, taking them out into the wastelands before their Shiver consumes them, and starts killing others.
Outside the wall there is nothing, or so Anthem thinks.
He also has a Shiver, but hides it well. His only desire: to help everyone get rid of the creatures that plague them. He wants to have a word with The Architect, apparently not one member of the family of the man ruling Atlas, has been exiled. Might be that there is a cure?
This is an amazing read. Not only for its premise: being terrorized by monsters lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce and devour you, when the time comes. The character development is impressive. From the man running the only store in the city, to Anthem. There's a deep understanding of all those involved. Not one player goes unnoticed by the author.
The story will take Anthem from Atlas, into the wastelands, where new threats await.
Skillfully written, it kept me on my toes, there's not a moment when you'll feel relaxed, as the action is nonstop. I can't recommend this novel enough.
Thank you for the advanced copy!
this worked as a horror premise, anything that has something eat you from the inside is scary to me so this worked so well. It had me gripping the edge of my seat and I enjoyed how well the plot works with the story. The characters were what I was hoping for and worked in this universe. I was invested in what was going on and enjoyed the way Edward J Cembal wrote this. Edward J Cembal has a great writing style and I can't wait to read more from him.
"I promise I’ll do it just like you showed me.” He set the vivarium in place and stood to face Anthem. “You’ll be proud of me, really. I think I got it good now. Just like you taught me.” He turned to his small black bag. “You won’t feel a thing.” “Look, Kid. It’s not time.”
The intriguing cover and blurb had me EXCITED to read this book and I'm so glad I was able to get an ARC!
I LOVED this action-packed horror novel. The characters were fun, the pace was fast, and you could easily immerse yourself into the settings. Apocalyptic fiction is my jam, and this author killed it (literally). They'll be an auto-buy author for me going forward. Tysm for the opportunity to read this ARC before the release.
This book had me snagged from page one. I’m not typically drawn to the horror genre but for some reason this sang to my soul. And as it turned out it was one I needed to read at a time I didn’t know I needed it. The main characters ability to hold on to his humanity in spite of the nauseating responsibilities and choices he was forced to make had me holding that fragile strand of hope right with him. The dystopian world brought to light what you as a reader expect to see when the world takes a **** and humans are left to embrace their depravity and greed. And it’s not a shocking landscape, we’ve all seen movies or read books showing what would happen when things fall however the way the author turns the landscape into something more leaves you contemplating how our current society deals with its own shivers. Enjoy this read and be prepared to loan this book out to everyone you know.