Audra is an inter-dimensional psuedo-cop overcame her worst childhood nightmare. Her trusted partner, a vicious clown, WAS that nightmare. They fight… not crime, but nasty threats.
Author Tim Wagonner crafts a universe where humans coexist with the manifestations of their most dreadful dreams. The story is told by Audra as if the reader is one of her good friends. Through her narration, her personality is detailed: she’s no-nonsense, a bit of a fitness freak, not shy of using certain alien palliatives, and is trustful of her allies.
As a child, Audra’s worst fear was meeting the mean clown of her nightmares. Her fears were so intense, her parents sought a doctor. Later as an adult, the clown, named Jinx, became real. Both are partners for Shadow Watch, an organization keeping the peace between the human Ideators and the bizarro, nigh-invincible Incubi of Earth and other-realm Nod.
In Night Terrors, the tag team unravel a plot that would destroy both worlds. Audra’s amiable narration makes it easy to read through the pages. This is good for this slow reader. Not surprisingly for a novel co-starring a clown, there are one-liners and darkly humorous quips. Jinx’s timing was a little better than average, but his mal mots are not my personal highlight.
One quirk of the Shadow Watch universe is that Incubi have Earth-appropriate daytime alter-egos. Jinx, for instance, is an art aficionado with a far less clown-like appearance. When night falls, Jinx rivals the Joker for an appetite for mayhem.
The story begins with Audra and Jinx chasing a black-clad assassin in Chicago leading to big battle at the “Bean” at Millennium Park. Afterwards, readers get to know Audra, Jinx as they investigate who was responsible for the assassin attacking the Windy City. The climax is a pull-out-all-the-stops battle where an ailing Audra forges with full determination.
Friends and freaks alike, gritty locales, and internal experiences are profiled through Audra’s cynical eye. Histories, motivations, and descriptions of preferred weapons make good world-building. However, Waggoner could snip some describing during intense action scenes.
I came out of reading Night Terrors not horrified, but pleased of Waggoner blending the macabre with the derring-do. The second Shadow Watch novel is set to be released in October and I look forward to read what Audra and Jinx will bump in the night.
Read a sample chapter:
Thanks to Angry Robot Book for supplying a review copy.