I didn’t know quite what to expect in approaching Shudderville. I had only heard recently that authors were publishing e-books that contained just chapters or sections from books in a series. Shudderville fits that format, being the first of a six-part series of episodes, much like a serialized novel or connected TV episodes.
I was interested in this book from its title, its episodic format, and because other reviewers had said it was scary. And I was not disappointed by any of that — okay, I admit the cliffhanger ending left me a bit disgruntled, but it fulfilled the author’s purpose in making me want to read more, which I did.
Summarizing the plot is difficult because the story has so many twists in it. But I’ll tell what I can without giving too much away. Sophie is a young woman whose daughter Jayla was killed in a car accident when Sophie let her daughter’s father, Peter, take the child with him. When Sophie realized Peter was drunk, she tried to stop him, but it was too late — he took off with Jayla in the car, and soon they were both dead. Now Sophie is an alcoholic, severely depressed, and desperately wishing she could have her daughter back.
Sophie begins to hear strange noises coming from the apartment of her new neighbor, a handsome young man with a goatee named Ryan. Her elderly neighbor, Mr. Mandelbaum, comes to complain about the noise, and in time, he starts to pry into Sophie’s personal life. Sophie soon meets Ryan and her friend Cassie becomes sexually involved with him. I expected at this point for Ryan to be the cause of the novel’s shudders, but Zabrisky’s plot is far more complex.
Several twists in this installment and a cliffhanger made me unable to resist going to read the second book in the series, and I thought that story even more suspenseful, although it contained different characters entirely, so not until the third installment can we expect the plot of part one to continue, and I expect in time it will connect with the plot from part two. I intend to keep reading. The first four installments are available now, with the rest soon to come.
A lot of reviewers have already commented on how scary this series is and compared it to The Twilight Zone (one of my favorite TV shows). The comparison is warranted, but I didn’t find the story scary so much as suspenseful and intriguing. It does not have the sensational or gory moments I have come to expect in horror novels; rather it is more literary in its themes and attached to the classic Gothic literature tradition, but definitely written for a modern audience.