[Book Review] The Shivering (Joseph W. Bebo, 2017) ★★★☆☆

book cover The Shivering by Joseph W. Bebo 2017

The Shivering delivers some spine-chilling moments in an ominous atmosphere. 

The Shivering is a classical supernatural occult tale of a haunted house, hauntings, possessions and ghosts. It’s a modern book but it plays out in the mid-seventies, giving it an extra supernatural vibe. It is written in a very pleasant style, unraveling the mystery of the house, its legend and the terrible horrifying ordeals that are happening to a group of friends who meddled in the occult. It’s an exciting, enthralling tale that must be read in the dark, preferably when you are all alone, so you can hear the whispers in the dark. 


Mike is a Vietnam veteran and just moved from Boston to a small town to work as a carpenter and constructor. After he met a group of friends, couples Sam and Judy and Sara and Richard who are into the occult, he joins them. He even meets their friend Linda whom he falls in love with. His life seems on track, until a ‘run’ – being brought under hypnosis to uncover a past life – that is held at his apartment goes a bit awry. 

And when he and Linda argue a lot more and his dog goes missing, the old house across his building, a special landmark, seems to be the trouble. When they all go investigating, after he has found his dog, hidden in the house, after two weeks, they all experience some terrible things. But as they get out of the house, it isn’t over yet. In fact, now the horrifying hauntings really are about to begin.

Why you should read it

It’s not a very new concept, it’s all about ghosts, a haunted house, possession, creepy hauntings and curses and an evil ghost witch. It doesn’t have an explicit writing style, that is particularly innovative or brings a new take on the genre.

But it is an enthralling story nonetheless. It is well written, with a likable main character, some dubious friends and horrifying developments. It is a solid, good, scary and very enjoyable horror tale. Especially when you are into this specific genre, it is a recommendable read.

The seventies vibe gives it an extra dimension, not in the least the non-existence of cellphones so that no quick call can ruin some scary moments, which otherwise have to be solved illogically (the no reception cliche). Now it is simply avoided, and it gives the story a different atmosphere to boot.

Also Mike’s background having fought in Vietnam makes him more interesting. And of course the interest in the occult in those days, makes their meetings more believable. The seventies vibe is tangible and an important element in the story.

The hauntings start out subtle, but increase as the story develops. Although the scares maybe not that original, they are effective and suit the story well. It’s a shame though that we don’t learn more about their past lives and if or what it has to do with what is happening now. These plot devices make the story more intriguing but don’t follow through. Also some people, advisors who are important to push the story forward are mere functionally and make you feel that it could have been even more epic.

But the terrible things that are happening to Judy, Sam, Sara and Richard are truly horrifying and deliver a well-crafted curse that brings in some good ugly physical horror. Although it can be very gruesome and gross at times the descriptions are focused on the internal horror, how the characters are mentally hurt by it. This goes for the violence as well. It stays implicit, the descriptions are never explicit to shock the reader, but serve as the idea of the graveness and horror of the curse.

The physical horror combined with the supernatural horror and the good witchcraft are the key elements to the story and together make up an enthralling horrifying ride. 

Side note: the dog dies. Mike finds him lying dead in his apartment.

My favorite part

The ending is very well-written, like a movie unfolding before your eyes, jumping from scene to scene, almost ending in despair and death, but Mike is doing everything he can to save his friends. You want to finish it in one read because it’s very thrilling, and written in such a pace that anything can happen. Anyone can still die. 

Mike is a very likable person and there’s absolutely nothing remotely disagreeable about him as if he doesn’t have any flaws. Most of the time this would result in a boring character but not Mike, because there’s something special about him. When he meets Jessica, these special traits become enlarged and it makes the story more interesting. Especially because Jessica herself is a new fresh character. 

It’s a nice fun horror read that entertains the hell out of you. It’s not a difficult read and will speak to a wide horror audience. This book is an excellent example of a good horror story that deserves to be read. 

A favorite quote

‘It’s large, wide, black eyes stared up at him hungrily. It began to crawl up the steep basement stairs toward him. Its hair was pasted to its head as if it had a fever. Its teeth were pointed and sharp. As Richard looked on in horror, it opened its mouth to let out a soundless scream, its jaws getting wider and wider until it took up its whole face.’ 


Rating: ★★★☆☆

Scare factor: ★★★★☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆


The Shivering is written by Jospeh W. Bebo and first published by Joseph W. Bebo, JWB Books Publishing in 2017. It consist of 231 pages. 

book cover The Shivering by Joseph W. Bebo 2017

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