Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra is a highly recommended domestic horror novel that morphs into a psychological thriller.
There is a blizzard outside and a mother is at home alone with her two children, ages 8 and 5, when she hears something and knows that someone is in the house. She happens to be in the shadows of the hall by her son's room when she seems the huge, tall man come up the stairs, hesitate, and then head in the opposite direction, to her room. She wakes the children with admonishments to make no noise and they quickly creep downstairs to hide in the hidden, tiny secret space concealed behind a wall. They can hear the man searching for them, while talking to them out loud and taunting them. The mother has one goal now - she must save her children.
While the tension is almost unbearable during the current situation,
the narrative has flashbacks to previous events in the protagonists
life. Readers will realize her husband is missing on this night and will
also learn about earlier events in her life. The novel is written in a
third person limited point-of-view, which works well in this case. The descriptions within the settings are very well-written and bring the struggles and challenges facing her to life.
The characters are unnamed in this debut novel, which would not be my
preference in a novel, but it is handled adeptly. Everything we know is
filtered through the unnamed mother's perspective and we are only
following her thoughts and observations. To be honest, the frequent
mentions of how tiny, small, and petite the protagonist is does become a
tad bit annoying at a certain point as does her hesitation to stand up
The first part of Nightwatching is definitely written as a horror novel and then the novel transforms to more closely resemble a psychological thriller. The final denouement is very satisfying and makes up for some of the earlier doubts and questions about the plot that arose while I was reading. Thanks to Penguin Viking/Pamela Dorman Books for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.