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  • Rev Horror

What Waits in the Shadows

Written by: Wil Forbis (2024)

A young woman, tormented since childhood by the mysterious death of her father and the committal of her mother to a mental institution, finds out that there are some monsters that really do exist.

I recently reviewed Wil Forbis' short story in the book Arithmophobia: An Anthology of Mathematical Horror, and it was by a pretty wide margin my favorite story in the book. After finding out he had just released a full-length book of his own, I immediately settled into reading it, pretty damn sure that I'd love his solo work as well. Forbis is a very talented writer, and he puts it on full display in this one. A story about myths, monsters, and the unescapable monstrosity of man, What Waits in the Shadows is an excellent book that plays off of common childhood fears and the trauma that we must live with our whole lives.

Lisa lost her father as a young child to an unimaginable act of violence, and after being growing up in foster care when her mother was committed to a mental institution, she has finally begun to get her life back on track. After getting her advanced psychology degree, with which she has dedicated her life to helping children in the same situation in which she grew up, Lisa has recently gotten engaged and moved into a beautiful new home with the man of her dreams. The promise of a normal and happy life eludes her, however, when traumas of the past come back to haunt her, and Lisa, along with the man who was put in prison for the murder of her father, will eventually find themselves thrust together in a battle for their very souls.

Forbis does a phenomenal job of describing his characters, thriving especially when certain events in the story could be called indescribable. While I certainly won't be getting into the nitty gritty of what happens here, suffice to say that this one goes into incredibly wild and imaginative directions. The story is exceptionally ambitious, merging our everyday world with one of Forbis' own creation, and it largely succeeds in doing so. The plot gets a little murky at times, especially near the end when all of the buildup comes to fruition, but it's a metaphysical story at its heart and Forbis guides it to its conclusion with an adept hand. Even when it gets complicated, you can rest assured that it will all be resolved (and explained) in the end.

The characters are very well developed and universally flawed. Even the more appealing characters, including Lisa herself, have major deficits in either character or emotional maturity. This is by design, of course, and it's interesting to see how Forbis sets these characters in motion and has them interact with the scenario. Despite most of the characters inherent unlikability, they all relate together in a way that helps to pull the entire story together. They're all well-written and deeper than surface level, and that helps tremendously in keeping the story both compelling and relatable, despite the fact that most of the audience (hopefully) won't actually relate to them at all. Forbis takes his time throughout, and while this can make the book move a little slow at times, it's an enjoyable journey that's well worth taking.

What Waits in the Shadows is a good book, and one that I'd definitely recommend for horror fans looking for a new story that they haven't heard told before. It's inventive, intriguing, and actually will stick in your head for a while as you ponder the implications of the world Forbis creates. I'd love to see more stories within this universe, because there are untold strings that could be pulled to dig deeper. While I'm generally full of praise for the book, I did have one gripe (that is completely irrelevant to the overall enjoyment of the story): how in the world did the man imprisoned for the last twenty years for the murder of Lisa's father know to make a Stranger Things reference? Thankfully, this was the only part of the story that didn't really make sense, and Forbis does a phenomenal job of taking an incredibly complicated backstory and turning it into a genuinely enjoyable story.

Who this book is for: Horror lit lovers, Metaphysical horror fans, Closet organizers

Bottom line: What Waits in the Shadows is surprisingly digestible given its complicated subject matter, and it's definitely one that horror fans will enjoy. A book about angels and demons, trauma and history, and, ultimately, one woman's journey from brokenness to healing. It's well-written, and it's definitely one you'll want to check out. You can grab a copy on Amazon, and you can also check out his website at The Horror of Wil Forbis. Definitely recommend doing so, and I can't wait to read more of his work.

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