“From the corner of your eye to the focus of your fear.”
You know that feeling you get when you read a book a think, ‘Wow, this is something else’? That was my exact thought when I finished the first chapter of this one! This book is one of the best indie books I’ve read over the last couple of years – I was so impressed by it. I hope this review makes you want to read and enjoy it as much as I did!
Periphery by Michael Winter follows the story of Andrew, who experiences a living nightmare, exposed for all to see, yet strangely camouflaged. When his father reveals terrifying creatures lurking in plain sight, strange things start to happen. Will Andrew be able to keep his family safe? How long do they have before the world is taken over for good?
The beginning of the book captured me straight away – there were no obvious character introductions, nor did the story ease us in gently; instead, we’re plunged straight into an intense scene, where Andrew, our MC, is forced into saving a hostage through conversation alone. The opening scene was incredible, and the author’s tone of voice was everything I’d hoped for, and more, from a book of this genre. This is how a book should really draw you in! Of course, after this striking start to the book, there was no way I could leave it there. I binge-read multiple chapters, and suddenly developed theories in my mind for the direction of the book. Very impressive so far!
We soon come to learn of Andrew’s career as an paramedic for Tampa Fire Rescue, and of his father in prison. At this point in the book, we also learn a bit more about Andrew’s family life, although there are a few details we have to use our imaginations for. I really admired how the author doesn’t just give everything away. Instead, we’re given certain clues and are encouraged to think about a whole host of possibilities. I was sure we’d learn more about Andrew’s life soon enough, but even so, I enjoyed the element of mystery that was so consistent throughout.
A creepy story isn’t complete without a monster or some unearthly creature, and Periphery does not disappoint in the slightest. What’s really unique about this story is how these creatures are portrayed, how their existence is described and why our characters fear them. The idea of a monster only attacking when it knows it has been spotted amazed me! Characters in the story have to ignore these terrifying things and pretend they cannot see them to stay safe. I loved how normal these things seemed to be for some, but to us readers, it’s so out of the ordinary. These were quite possibly some of my favourite creature creations in a book, ever!
“I’m afraid your wife and daughter are in danger for bigger reasons than that. We all are. Something’s coming, Andy. Something very, very bad.”
I really liked how the beginning of the book focused mainly on two characters; Andrew and his father, John. We hear from the perspective of each of these characters which is essential for a bit of interesting backstory, and it teaches us more about the creatures that Andrew now sees. John’s time in prison was also an interesting read. The way the author describes his experiences and simply the writing style and tone is so clever it made me jealous! Andrew tries his best to keep his wife and daughter safe, but will it be enough? What else are these dangerous creatures capable of?
As things get more dangerous, the creatures finally do what they set out to do; kill. The first victim was autistic, and couldn’t help but look curiously at the danger before him. We see his mother’s suffering, and reading this was quite saddening. The effect of his actions make many people fear these creatures even more. The author visits these delicate scenes well and helps us feel sympathy, fear and curiosity. If this was the first kill, how worse could it get?
With more and more pressure put on Andrew and with more to think about and take control of, it becomes clearer that he’ll have to take immediate action to keep him, his family and those around him safe. Each chapter throughout the book is exciting and gripping, and the author has done incredibly well to grab your attention and keep it there. The description is flawless and it effortlessly places you in the shoes of these characters.
I really enjoyed reading the backstory of some of the characters, especially the moment Andrew’s father left him and his mother behind to keep them safe. Again, we really feel emotion from these scenes, and it makes us realise that even though John Tate left his family behind, he was doing what was best for them. Staying was a risk that he did not want to take. Reading this made me think of what would happen in the real world if we witness something so terrifying. How would we react? The scenes in the book quickly become more and more action-packed which really helped the flow of the story. The danger for our characters soon reaches an alarming amount; who will stay safe and who will be the next victim?
“Better smother them both in their sleep than risk an end like that. Better to take their lives with a bullet than allow their essence, their souls, to be absorbed by those parasitic machines.”
Andrew winds up in prison after being set up, and we reach one particular chapter that I really loved. New characters are briefly introduced, and each one of them is about to take their last breath. At this point in the story, the creatures are picking people off one by one, forcing them to suffer a grim, painful and lonely death. This gives the reader a bit of a heads up, and at this point, we know the creatures are getting stronger and more fearless before the main characters do! Another great way of building up suspense for what’s to come at the end of the story – I was very excited to see how things would end.
The end of the story was so much different from the start. Things seem much darker at this point, and prolonged exposure to the creatures starts to take its toll. The appearance of our main characters, as well as their sanity, begins to change as a result. The world, and everyone in it, is changing, and not for the better. It was really horrifying to read, but Andrew, his father, and a whole host of other characters join forces and do what they can to regain control. Staying safe was a priority, but how long were they able to do it?
Andrew convinces his old colleagues that an attack is imminent, and they finally begin to believe him. It was heartwarming to read how all of the main characters worked together to find a solution and to keep those they care about safe. The build up was incredible and when it was finally time to eliminate those monsters once and for all, I felt the group were ready to give it everything they’d got. Whatever the outcome for the world, the journey for both the characters and the reader was simply unforgettable.
The battle was a great read – although we witness a few injuries along the way, the group, now slowly losing their minds, fight with everything they have to destroy these creatures once and for all. The beasts grow bigger than ever and become more dangerous than they were before, but that doesn’t stop everyone from giving their last ounce of energy to fight for their world. I absolutely loved it!
“One final lie; one last gift. The only thing he could offer those who remained was the chance to deal with hope.”
We see some victories, but also the loss of characters we’ve grown to love from the very beginning. Even though the characters fought as hard as they could, have they really succeeded in eliminating these creatures completely? Were they scared into hiding, never to return again, or were they simply waiting for the right time to strike once more? We’ll never know… unless there’s a sequel!
Periphery is a gripping, captivating read, and one that will stay with me for a very long time. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of our main characters; the uncertainties and dangers throughout made the book very difficult to put down! The author has a unique tone of voice which keeps you fully invested in each part of the story, and many parts fill you with different emotions too. A great read which I’d wholeheartedly recommend!
A big congratulations to the author, Michael Winter, for creating something that simply cannot be put down! You can purchase your own copy of Periphery over on Amazon, available on Kindle and paperback. 📚