The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reading level: YA/crossover
Published: October 3, 2011 by HCI Teens
Summary: A chilling and masterfully crafted teen horror novel guaranteed to keep the pages turning, the mind reeling, and the lamp on any reader's bedside table on long after midnight.
Privileged and popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation when he receives a mysterious, disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood playmate, Christine. Caleb and his jokester friend Bean decide to travel to his tiny hometown of Hudsonville, Florida, to find her. Upon arrival, they discover the town has taken a horrifying turn for the worse. Caleb's childhood home is abandoned and his father has disappeared. Children are going missing. The old insane asylum has reopened, and Christine is locked inside. Her mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine's long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an a.m. radio. The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass. Sixteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will bring about the end of the world. As Caleb peels back layer after layer of mystery, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead.
The Sleepwalkers amazed me in more ways than one. I was drawn to it after reading the summary but obviously I didn't have the slightest idea of what I was getting myself into.
First thing I learned- it was not a very good idea to read this book late at night. The creepyness factor is there from the very beginning, and the feeling lingers for the rest of the book. The story itself is scary and disturbing enough. The writing in The Sleepwalkers was superb, unique and fresh. The author knows how to drive you to the edge of your seat page after page, and how to keep you engaged on single sentence structure. Gates tells a story about where the evil sleeps and explores the places in our minds that we have no control over, opening endless (horrific) possibilities. From the first appearance of The Sleepwalkers to the last ominous sentence, it's a chill-inducing story that fans of horrors will love.
As for the characters, the highlight of this book is Bean. I loved that guy from the moment he entered the stage. Such a true friend and well-developed character is hard to find. Caleb, the main character, was of less interest to me. He's the typical main character who embarks on a journey to find some answers and gets sucked into a world that he and the rest of the world are completely unaware of. I loved to see him grow and mature in the course of the book. I had problems with Christine. Throughout the novel I struggled to figure her out. I couldn't bring myself to trust her, even in the end, and therefore the romance that develops left me indiferent.
Despite the few small things that I wasn't completely happy with, I think the Sleepwalkers was an amazing novel that deserves no less than five stars. Dark, atmospheric, scary and intense, The Sleepwalkers is a great story written by a talented writer that I will highly recommend to everyone.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HCI Teens for the opportunity to read this novel. It's out right in time for Halloween!
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