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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