2022 Reading Review: The Watchers

You ever have a book where the synopsis just immediately makes you say “YES”? That’s what The Watches was for me. When I picked it up from the shelf and read that summary, I knew I wanted to dive into this book.

Now, I’ve been on a big fantasy kick this year. I love fantasy, but was often discouraged from reading and writing it in college. So, I went through a big reading slump for a long time, and celebrating by just enjoying whatever the hell I want to read. Having that resounding “YES” at reading The Watchers synopsis was a good sign that I was continuing that path.

The Watchers is a horror novel set in Ireland, which is another plus for it. I haven’t read a ton of horror, though I do enjoy it. And I couldn’t say no to a book set in Ireland; we need more of that. (Heck, we need more books set in Scotland too! I’ll work on that one).

So, wanna know more about this one? Take a journey with me on this review. I promise we won’t get lost in the woods.

Story

Mina’s car breaks down on the road of a quiet forest in Connemara. Realizing she’s without options, as her phone is also not working, she gets out and begin walking. And, yet, no progress seems to be made.

Just as night begins to falls, she catches sight of a bright light within a bunker. Urged to move forward by the figure standing inside the bunker, Mina finds herself trapped within along with three others, while screams echo from outside the bunker’s walls.

Where are they? What lurks outside the bunker’s walls that leaves them trapped within? And will they be able to survive to find a way out?

Characters

Mina. Our main protagonist. An artist who occasionally takes on odd-jobs to make some extra money. It’s one of these odd-jobs that takes her to a road not on any map where her car breaks down.

Madeline. Ready to close the door and seal away the creatures in the night, she spots Mina. Hesitant to let her in, knowing what will happen if the door isn’t locked, she demands Mina run if she wants to survive. But she is the hardest member of the group, so earning her approval and respect will not come easy.

Ciara. Easy-going, positive, and somewhat carefree, Ciara strives to find the good in their situation. Her husband, John, had been lost to the darkness, having been locked out when he did not return one evening. Somehow, she keeps the most positive demeanor of the group, despite Madeline’s constant berating.

Daniel. The youngest, but the one who tries his best. Constantly at the receiving end of Madeline’s criticisms, Daniel struggles to remain helpful to their group as they all fight to survive the short days and long nights.

Writing

The writing throughout The Watchers is smooth and relatively easy-to-read. There’s a good amount of backstory for characters, so we feel connected to who we’re reading about. But we spend most of our time reading lost in the situation along with our characters.

I will say that the writing felt a little stiff to me personally. Very matter-of-fact and to the point. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not a challenging read. It’s not one where you’ll struggle to understand what’s going on. But if you’re someone like me that’s been reading a lot more fantasy recently—with an abundance of description and elaborate prose—this might feel a little dry at times.

But that’s just me. Your experience may differ!

Will You Like This?

Do you like horror set in a very claustrophobic setting?
Are you looking for more horror stories featuring monsters and creatures?
Do you enjoy Irish folk legends?
Are you wanting a book that is just a standalone horror novel, not the setup to a series?

Then The Watchers may be a great book to sink your teeth into! Bonus points if you can enjoying reading it while sitting in quiet cabin in the woods…


Opinion

It’s been over a week since I finished this book, and I struggled to write this review. I don’t think it’s a bad book. I just didn’t fall into as much as I hoped. The synopsis of the book immediately pulled me in. But trying to get through a chapter at a time was challenging.

I’m trying to figure out why I struggled with this book. I don’t have issues with horror, despite not reading a ton of horror.

As hinted at in the Writing section, I didn’t particularly care for the writing style. The best word I have is “stiff”. And that did make it feel like such a chore to get through the writing. Like, I should’ve cared about the backstory of these characters, but every time a fell into that, I just had to force myself to get through it. There would even be times where I regretted starting a chapter at the time I did (I like finishing my reading at the end of a chapter, rather than in the middle). That’s not how I want to feel when reading.

I also felt like I was guessing the story a little too easily as it happened. There were some surprises, sure, but every time there was a reveal, I didn’t feel surprised or horrified or anything. Maybe that’s because I struggled to connect with this book.

I will say, despite all that, I did like the ending. The way the entire book ended, I felt that was a strong point.

Rating

I’m giving this one: 3 stars.

I always have issues with giving a rating. I’ve said it since I started applying ratings to books, and so I won’t break that tradition here: ratings are SO subjective. And because of that, it feels difficult to apply them to books. My opinion isn’t the only opinion, and someone else could think this is the book they’ve been waiting for all their lives.

But for me, it was good, but I wasn’t amazed by it. I never regret reading a book, and I definitely don’t feel that way here, but I just wasn’t getting what I was hoping for from that back-of-the-book synopsis. Maybe you’ll have a different experience!

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