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The Narrows

Narrated by: Scott R. Smith
Length: 6 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"I can show you how to enter the Narrows to find what you seek."

Oliver and his friends have returned to their hometown of Shumard, Texas for the funeral of their close friend Noah. They each grapple with the loss in their own ways, trying to understand the strange circumstances of their friend's unexpected death.

While visiting the site where the body was found, Oliver stumbles across a chilling discovery that he knows must be related to what happened to Noah. Wanting to protect his friends from these newfound horrors, Oliver takes it upon himself to venture into the grotesque other world known as the Narrows to learn what happened to his friend and find a way to bring him back.

Entering the Narrows is one thing, but will whatever he finds there allow him to leave?

©2018 Travis M. Riddle (P)2019 Travis M. Riddle

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great, often-creepy listen!

This is the story of Oliver, who is recently back in his hometown to attend the funeral of one of his best friends from high school. What Oliver discovers when he is visiting the place in which his friend Noah allegedly committed suicide is a man melt into a gross mushroom-filled orange liquid accompanied by a loud buzzing sound. All this culminates into Oliver discovering another world known as The Narrows, and he knows that this place and its creepy denizens are responsible for the death of his friend. And so he goes to investigate.

This one has a real good Stranger Things vibe in the latter half, as The Narrows seem quite similar to The Upside Down. It takes place in the present day and follows people who are in their mid-twenties, but the creepy-other-world vibe is very strong.

I actually have a bit of a fortunate advantage here, in that this story takes place in a made-up suburb of Houston, and I also live in a suburb of Houston (albeit on a different side of the city than the city this is based on). This means I get a lot of little things about living here that this book lays out there. Kolaches, for example, are mentioned quite a lot here (making me want some), and will either be an unfamiliar phenomenon, or mean different things depending on where you live (especially if you are from Europe). They are a huge thing in this particular part of Texas, and in this context refer to a sweet bread usually filled with things like sausage, cheese, egg, and/or jalapeño. It sounds a little silly, but this familiarity made me a little more at home in the setting, because I can quite literally imagine myself in it, lol. ^_^

That said, the underlying creepiness of The Narrows was easy to imagine, and the horror-fantasy atmosphere was really gripping. This was a very well written story, and I found myself immersed right in it. There is a pretty diverse cast of characters, with characters of all kinds of races, genders and sexualities. Most of the characters were well fleshed out and had unique quirks and personalities. I listened to the entire thing in two days. I cheered for Oliver, and hoped for him to save the day and find out what happened to his friend.

The narrator, Scott R. Smith did a pretty great job. He brought each character to life. My only real issue with the audiobook as a whole was that at times, you could hear things in the background of the audio recording. Usually birds tweeting, which… wasn’t necessarily the worst thing one can hear in the background of an audiobook, but it was certainly distracting from time to time.

So all told I liked this one a lot. An Urban-Fantasy-Horror which felt like a modern-set Stranger Things with more Waffle House, BBQ, and Kolaches. I’m on board with those things, and so I had a good time with this one.

This review is based on a review copy of the audiobook. Thanks to the author for the review copy!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tim Simmons
  • San Antonio, Texas United States
  • 06-29-19

More than a narrow bit of fun!

I very much enjoyed The Narrows. It manages so much in a relatively short time. Riddle's ability to create interesting and believable characters is amazing. I cared about Oliver, Sophie and Davontae from the very beginning. The horror elements in the story are balanced, they blend naturally with the poignant internal struggles Oliver experiences and the heart-warming interactions he has with his friends.

I wouldn't miss this because horror "isn't your thing." You will be shaken more by what the book evokes in you as the theme is explored so skillfully through fantasy. There are multiple comic interludes that are truly a joy to experience, you never feel under siege by what is ultimately a sad story. This is the kind of book that transports you to a place that is unfamiliar but not bizarre.

Scott Smith gives a great performance that adds to the story, I thought he matched the story really well.

I can't think of a better way to spend some airport time or a quiet weekend at home then to travel to Shumard, Texas with some great new friends and a story that will keep you thinking long after you've finished it.

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  • Sian Plummer
  • 09-09-19

A short atmospheric read entwining themes of grief

A short atmospheric read entwining themes of grief and friendship with the supernatural.

Enter into The Narrows, an otherworld, at your own risk. Will whatever lays beyond this world ever let you leave? Well, you won't find out unless you try, and our protagonist Oliver isn't above having a go in order to get the answers that he feels he needs since experiencing the loss of an old friend.

Riddle successfully builds the world of The Narrows, and the small Texas town brilliantly, the writing flows naturally and immerses you deep into the story, giving great descriptions that lend well to the imagination, especially important I find when listening to books. The depth and description of food alone will make your mouth water.

In this short novel, I didn’t find myself connecting to the characters, I was fairly indifferent to all of them, but I still appreciated them together as a group. Having returned to their old hometown having reunited after an old friend has passed away, a lot of the deeper discussions about friendship and moving on are very relevant and real. Our antagonist, The Knave, is a gross well written villain that resides in The Narrows. Meet him at your peril. He's not the scariest of supernatural beings, but he sure is grotesque.

This story for me however, lacked any gut-punching horror. The supernatural elements are there, but if you're after something that is going to scare you/ slash you/ ruin you in any which way, then this probably isn't going to do that. If you like your horror fairly subtle or want an introduction to the genre however, this one is a decent shout. Does it feel completely unique? Not really, but it certainly has wonderful ideas and a different take on how they are presented.

Having finished this audiobook and processing my thoughts for this review, I think it gets 3 gems from me. I think this would make for a decent movie too.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • KW1973
  • 06-21-19

A really good listen :D

Overall I'm glad I listened to this tale, the characters were likable, the story intriguing, the narration pleasing.
Not that people wont find criticism, they always do. But all in all I would like to come back to follow ups of this adventure.
I found the tale to have a creepy kind of vibe and great scope for any future discoveries in the narrows.

The scene that the cover picture is based on, was particularly grusome and well writen, really gave me the shivers.