The Stitchers, the first book in the Fright Watch series by the magnificently-named Lorien Lawrence, follows Quinn and Mike, two young friends investigating their eerie, sinister neighbors (the ones with the unusual, unsettling habits and the plastic-looking skin) and other odd goings-on about their town on the cusp of summer.* An immanently readable book, thanks to Lawrence’s excellent pacing, but mostly to her keen eye for vivid, creepy imagery and the book is peppered with great visuals: from a severed hand floating along in a pond, to the elderly antagonists lifelessly staring at our main characters through the windows of their houses (I mean).
Mostly, though, I liked the characters. Quinn and Mike have great chemistry, both as friends and potential love interests (another commendation for the writing here: I am not a fan of main characters being automatically romantic, but Lawrence comes about their budding relationship in a gradual and believable manner). I liked how Quinn had friends outside of the plot, and how true their interactions felt (there are hints of jealousy and frustration towards Quinn’s friendship with Mike, but they never cast her aside). Quinn’s mother, the perpetually busy but caring single mother, is another character who felt wholly real. But it’s Grandma Jane who is the natural standout, being the kind of witchy grandmother we all wish we could have.
Unfortunately the villains themselves are little more than sketches, virtually lacking discernible traits outside their interactions with Bea, who, as the leader of their nefarious little group, gets the most developed personality, but even then it’s not enough to truly distinguish her as an exceptional baddie. But they’re established enough to serve their purpose.
All in all, Stitchers is a really fun, creepy story told with a lot of heart and enthusiasm. Eager to see what else this series has in store.
* Summer Spooks prelude!