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20 April 2014

Watchers of the Night
Matthew Keith
Publication Date
Dec 2013
YA, Paranormal

From the outside, Paul Bennett appears to be an ordinary high school senior from small-town Kentucky. But Paul has a secret. He possesses an extraordinary gift which allows him to leave his body during the night and go anywhere, see anything—unseen, undetected. 

Unbeknownst to Paul, he is not alone in his ability--there are others who can do what he can, and they belong to Astralis, a government agency funded by the United Nations who train people like Paul to become spies. When one of their scouts recognizes Paul for what he is, he is offered a place in the agency. Paul makes a new life at Astralis, forging new friendships and inadvertently creating new enemies. Through the mentoring of the agency's director, Dr. Abrams, Paul finds a place where he finally feels he belongs. 

Unfortunately, Astralis is an organization under siege from within. Not everyone feels Dr. Abrams is a fit director, and some are willing to do anything to make a change of leadership--even murder.

My review:

Paul is late at school - again. Doesn't go down well of course with the teachers. But he can't help it. He has a sleep disorder making him falling to sleep when the sun goes down and only waking up when the sun comes up again. No specialist and no method tried by his parents  can keep him awake or wake him up earlier. But what neither his parents nor his two best friends, Steven and Stephanie, know is that not only does he fall asleep like that, but also seems to walk in his sleep whilst his physical body stays in bed - so no-one can see nor hear him when he walks around town in night-time. First he thinks it must be a dream, but it is too real.

A meeting with his school counsellor leads him to Astralis, a Sleep Disorder Clinic. Only, it isn't a clinic. At Astralis, Paul will find out that there are others like him, called Walkers. And at Astralis, they work for the U.N. under peace missions. The walkers are obviously a valuable commodity, being able to walk around in nightime where no-one sees them and but they can hear and see everything. Paul makes good friends at Astralis, but there are also those who disagree with what Astralis does, and would like to use their special 'power' for other purposes and would rather like to get paid for it. Paul's two friends from his home town, Steven and Stephanie, will be by his side when he has to make important decisions and book 1 ends on a big cliffhanger. 

I absolutely loved this book, in fact it reminds me of my favourite writer Stephen King's style. This story could have come straight from SK's pen. Having the idea for the story is one thing, but as a writer, you also have to be able to put it into a 'readable and enjoyable' format - and that's exactly what Keith did here. Even though, due to the age of the main character, a YA book, it clearly also very much appeals to the slightly older adult (I'm in my 40's :). The story never stalls, and the 'walking ability' is easy to understand and not made too complicated by some weird science or other factors. For example, Paul will learn at Astralis how the Walkers complete their missions - they can't be seen, but they also can't move anything, so doors need to be open for them. They can't get hurt, even if, for example, jumping out of a helicopter. But their physical body is vulnerable whilst sleeping, so they all have a Sentinel who guards them. 

What I like about Paul is that he is not some kind of Super-Kid but himself almost feels awkward with his special ability and for a long time, sees it as a disablement rather than a gift. The story is plot driven though in my opinion, and this makes it a real page turner. This is another book which I can see working beautifully as a movie. 

The only thing which did not work for me so well was the cover. The tag line is 'spot on': The end of the day…is just the beginning', but I felt this good story needed a bit of more exciting cover. I just simply know that a lot of readers chose the book by the cover. But this is just a personal preference I guess. 

All in all, one of the best YA Paranormal I have read in a long time, and I can't wait to read book 2. 

I have received this book from the author in return for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.