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The Guardians by Andrew Pyper book review

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Childhood friends with a secret? Check. A sleepy hometown you're desperate to leave, yet always drawn back to? Check. Inanimate objects that loom over a town, exuding evil thoughts and inspiring evil deeds? Check. Never having any friendship to equal those of early manhood? Check.

It's certainly possible that you'll find a touch of the familiar in The Guardians , at least if you're a Stephen King fan. That's not a bad thing, though – there's a reason King's successful, this stuff works – and Pyper has enough of a different voice that it's never too distracting.

In school, Trevor, Ben, Randy and Carl were best friends, who lived through terrible events and shared a terrible secret. Years later, Trevor is recalled to their hometown of Grimshaw by the suicide of Ben, the only one of them not to leave. Ben’s obsession with the haunted house opposite his window dominated his life, and now he’s dead the others must deal with the legacy of exactly what they did when they were all 16, and what they and the house are still capable of. As history begins to repeat itself, they realise that Ben's sanity-defeating vigil may have been keeping the town safe all these years.

The marketing for this book seems very keen on pushing it as a “haunted house” novel, but that isn't how it feels at all – it's much more about the impact of shared secrets on a friendship and on men's lives. It's also very much a thrilling horror story that keeps you turning page after page in an urgent need to find out what happens next. You won't be disappointed either, thanks to a satisfying pay-off and action-filled conclusion that contains just the right amount of shocks.

Rhian Drinkwater

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