THE GUARDIANS by Andrew Pyper
Andrew Pyper’s novel The Guardians sucked me in on the first page and just wouldn’t let me go until I’d finished it. There have been a lot of comparisons to Stephen King’s It and “The Body,” the short story from Different Seasons that became the movie Stand By Me. Those comparisons are dead on in so many way, but Pyper offers a different look at everything and displays a chilling creepiness that is mesmerizing.
The pacing in the novel makes the book hard to put down too. It’s just way too easy to keep flipping pages. I finished it up in the dark, in the quiet of the house, just as it should be finished. This is definitely an atmospheric read and you should choose your surroundings wisely. Also, it would probably help to budget time to finish the book rather than just occasionally reading it.
The characters in the book are pretty well defined, but it’s that sense of knowing all four of these guys that really got to me. Growing up at that age, I remember all the Carls, Bens, Randys, and Trevors that passed through the halls at my high school. Everybody had their own problems, their own struggles with fitting in, but you just didn’t see the cracks because everybody was pretending that high school was easy.
When I saw that Pyper intended to present alternating chapters – one in the present and one in the past – I was somewhat disenchanted. I didn’t see how the author could keep from breaking his narrative pacing. But he does. Every chapter Pyper has written blends perfectly with the last, and it’s like watching the coals in a campfire die out one by one until there is only the cold, harsh fear of the unknown waiting up ahead.
This is a haunted house story, and even though it feels familiar, there are enough twists and turns along the way that it still feels new at the same time. But that’s part of the pleasure of this book. The tale is like a half-remembered fever dream that drags you back down into the morass. You can recall some of what’s going on, but only enough to let you know that what’s coming is going to be pretty horrible.
Some of the best aspects of the book are all the mysteries Pyper has woven into the narrative. For a long time, the reader doesn’t have all the pieces to the story to figure out everything that’s going on, what happened to everyone in the story, and what’s really at stake. Then it all comes together in a sudden, chilling blast at the end that will leave you wanting the story to be over and not wanting to let go until you get every last delicious tingle. You’ll want to skip ahead, but don’t cheat yourself of the experience.
I haven’t read Andrew Pyper before, but he’s definitely going on my to-be-read list. Thankfully there are four other books to catch up on, but if they all read like this one, I’ll be caught up all too soon.