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Umbra: The Horror by Alex Davidson


Simon and Claudia are both sent to Deton Academy for Troubled Youth for their behavior in the past. They are hoping to complete one year, and get out forever. However, when Simon finds a piece of paper accusing Dean Carter of murdering tons of students, the two new friends must figure out what happened to the accuser and what he was searching for.

Note: Umbra: The Horror contains some graphic violence and harsh language.

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Editorial Reviews

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By Palladian, editor, author of Super

Sep 7, 2013: This is the second piece I’ve read from this author, and I was pleased to see the progression of his work from the last tale to this one. In this story, we follow Simon and Claudia, new students at Deton Academy who find out that something seems very wrong with the school they’ve been attending. I liked seeing the author’s improved character development, and enjoyed finding out more about these two as he ran them through their paces. I liked that the two of them seemed to be balanced and fairly well-rounded, and I look forward to seeing even better characterization in his next serial.

The plot also seems better thought out than in this author’s last effort, and I could tell the author spent a bit of time thinking out the actions of the characters and reactions based on what they did. I only had a couple times when my suspension of disbelief failed (e.g., what amounts to probably hundreds of students disappearing over a few years and none of their parents even thought to give them a surprise visit?), so I definitely appreciated that the author thought this plot through a lot better.

As for things that could possibly be improved for future efforts, I would have liked to see as much care taken with plotting the end of the story as was obviously given to the beginning and middle. I’ve found that having an outline that at least covers major things that should be covered in the introduction/setup, the middle, and the climax/resolution of the story helped me to make sure no part of the story was overburdened or too light; perhaps this is a tool that would be helpful here. One more thing I’d like to mention is that sometimes one of the most effective things horror/suspense story writers do is to start with hints of where they’re going and wait until they’re well into the story to reveal what the real problem or difficulty is. Having the ‘punch line’ (that all the Seniors were being sacrificed by the dean of the school) revealed in the first chapter seemed to take away a bit of the impact, I thought. One of the things that I think horror and suspense writers like to exploit is their own readers’ imaginations; people have the capability to imagine just about any sort of horrible thing, especially when they don’t know what it actually is.

At any rate, I definitely enjoyed reading Umbra, even though I ended up wishing the ending felt a bit less rushed. I’d definitely recommend this story to suspense and horror fans.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Undoubtedly a fun, and at times creepy, read.

By NaomiL, author of Holly(Woods)

Jul 12, 2013: Umbra: The Horror is about two students at a boarding school for troubled teens, who begin to suspect that something ominous is happening to each senior class. The main character from whose point of view we hear most of the story is Simon, a boy with a chronic inability to talk to people. He befriends another new student called Claudia, a forthright, troubled girl, who is the one of the only people at the school Simon can bring himself to talk to.

There’s a lot of plot in Umbra, a whole lot of plot, and it’s pretty interesting and has great atmosphere. Simon starts to discover journal pages hidden around the school from a former student named Patrick. The journal entries are pretty creepy and quite well done, and it’s a very interesting idea, having them scattered about, and Simon finding them.

The school itself manages to convey a creepy atmosphere and adds a lot of ambiance to the story which is a definite plus. Simon and Claudia’s friendship is really very nice and refreshing. I enjoy the way Claudia seems to draw Simon out a bit from his shell while still being understanding of his social limitations and not actively trying to change him or fix his problems. Claudia herself is a strong albeit brash female character which is always something great to read.

I do think the story good be more fleshed out. As I said there’s a lot of plot in Umbra, and it’s good plot. It’s a great story. But it’s somewhat rushed. There could be a lot more details added and descriptions put in, we could spend more time seeing the friendship between Simon and Claudia grow and more time allowed for the audience to get to know them. I’m not entirely sure how many words the story is, somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 perhaps, give or take and I believe there’s still one more chapter to go. But there’s plot and character there enough to fill a full length book.

But regardless, I did enjoy it. It’s a fun read, with some pretty creepy parts and imaginative plot twists. I enjoyed following Simon and Claudia as they investigated what was going on. They’re smart and clever and come up with good approaches for the situations and questions that arise and the answers are all interesting. Sometimes they figure things out with a little too far leaps of logic, but it works. They’re great, but flawed, protagonists, which is just what you want, especially in a story set in a boarding school for troubled youths.

It’s a good read, and you won’t be bored. I would definitely recommend it.

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