A deceptively mild tale about a walled city that turns overtly scary before it’s over.

When the Watcher Shakes

A man traveling the country comes across a religious commune that’s easy to enter but decidedly more difficult to leave in this debut thriller.

Feeling trapped in Florida, John leaves his girlfriend behind and hitchhikes north. He meets gas-station owner Jerry in West Virginia and plans to stick around for a bit of fishing. John’s also curious about a nearby walled city. Jerry, who says nothing about being a former resident, recommends the traveler stay away, but John can’t help himself. A gatekeeper answers his knock and lets him into Abestown, which houses an apparent sect. Residents are immediately wary of the Outsider, standing out in his loud, bright clothes and sporting an unruly ponytail and beard. But there’s definitely something strange going on: when John asks about the unmistakable train whistle, everyone tells him there’s no train or even a whistling that he repeatedly hears. Commune leader and Head Historian Rob Kai wants the townsfolk to remain devout, and even questioning the law could spark a trial most likely resulting in a punishment by death. Rob fears that John, as a representative of “the evils of the outside world,” may be infecting the people, who could, for starters, decide that they, too, hear the sound of a train. The methodical Head Historian debates evicting the Outsider—or simply killing him. Suspense in the novel initially feels muted since it’s unclear if John’s in any danger. But an unnerving atmosphere slowly creeps in. The religion, for one, is weirdly ambiguous, a Christian faith that simultaneously idolizes founder Abe and things done or said “as would please Abe.” Similarly, there are the necrolilith, an evil presence in the surrounding woods, as well as the disturbing manner in which the Council of Historians carries out a death penalty. All this menace eventually becomes more chilling as the story progresses, with Huguenin revealing some of Abestown’s inner workings and a hint of Jerry’s back story. A somewhat open ending retains an overall sense of dread, leaving a character or two’s fate in question and not expounding on Rob’s largely hidden—and frankly terrifying—ability.

A deceptively mild tale about a walled city that turns overtly scary before it’s over.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.


When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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