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The Thing On The Shore by Tom Fletcher Book review

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Tom Fletcher's first book, The Leaping , was an intriguing attempt to refresh the werewolf novel. Its protagonists were knowing geeks, tossing off film references while debating the state of the world and shagging. Despite some promise, this reviewer thought it was a bit of a mess.

The Thing On The Shore is basically more of the same. But, appropriately given the title, it has hidden depths. Focussing largely on the staff of a call centre in Whitehaven, it sees the author tapping into modern fears of desensitisation and dehumanisation. Despite the title, Fletcher isn't a 21st century Guy N Smith, and this isn't Night Of The Crabs . Instead, it's a thoughtful supernatural thriller where the true horror is the crushing reality of the characters' lack of prospects.

Still, it would be disappointing if there wasn't at least some gribbly sea-beast action. It takes a while, but Fletcher cranks up the tension from the off, and when his creatures do emerge, they’re memorably grotesque, and the truth of what they represent is pleasantly surprising.

There are flaws. Sinister call centre manager Artemis Black is about as subtly evil as you'd expect given that name - you could replace him with Cyril Sneer from The Racoons with negligible impact. The author's desire to shock feels forced at times (see the bit where someone humps a dead sea creature). But it's an atmospheric, entertaining book that, with its criticisms of corporate culture, manages to be about something more than just monsters.

Will Salmon

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