Take Your Turn, Teddy

Take Your Turn, Teddy by Haley Newlin

No one knows your darkness like your own Shadow.

Nothing has been normal for Teddy, not since discovering the harsh identity of the monster he had been living with his whole life—his own father. Teddy and his mother leave that behind to start over in a small Indiana township. But as Teddy begins to learn of humanity’s monsters, he unveils an otherworldly evil he calls “The Shadow.” The Shadow tests Teddy’s vulnerability and growing sense of isolation, poisoning his mind and conjuring a vile killer-in-the-making.

A year later, Officer Leonard Strode is called in to offer consultation on a case similar to the most brutal and scarring of those he’s worked on before. One is the case of Jackie Warren, the other, Theodore “Teddy” Blackwood — two missing children. As he and two other officers follow the trail of clues, Strode is haunted by the ghosts of his own past and is horrified to find them wreaking havoc on his present.

When both Teddy and Strode finally meet face-to-face, they must confront their inner darkness as well or else be consumed by it.

The IndieMuse Review

Coming of Age Creature Feature with a difference

Teddy comes home from school one day to find his father home early unexpectedly, and he is not alone. This discovery sets off a series of events that result in Teddy and his mother moving across the country to live in an old family-owned home in a small town in rural Indiana, where Teddy finds himself feeling increasingly isolated, lonely and vulnerable.

Until, one day, he ventures alone into the house’s dingy basement and meets his new best friend: The Shadow.

At first, Teddy’s new friend is content to play games and provide comfort but, as time goes on, he begins to ask more and more of Teddy, encouraging him to do terrible things. A police investigation into a series of horrific local murders soon intertwines with Teddy and his Shadow, but is Teddy past the point of salvation?

Newlin opens the book with a lengthy Author’s Note describing her experiences writing Take Your Turn, Teddy and describes it as a cautionary tale about vulnerability, depression, and mental health issues. While the novel works perfectly well as a supernatural coming of age meets police procedural story, it was interesting to consider these points while reading the struggles the characters go through, and there is a depth and layer of meanings there for those who want it.

The opening of the book focusing on Teddy is absolutely gripping. He gets plenty of page time to develop as a character before the action gets going, and reading about his subsequent struggles is heart-breaking, and this commitment to making him a likeable and well-rounded character pays off in a big way when the story takes a turn for the unexpected just before the midway point.

Teddy isn’t always front and center, however, and a significant chunk of the book is given to a group of police officers, most notably Officer Strode, who is suffering significantly from PTSD as a result of past cases. It was a jarring about-turn at first, but the group have an interesting dynamic and contribute to the overall narrative from a different perspective and in a more grounded way, which I felt was a brave but exciting way to go. This is more a testament to the quality that came before it as opposed to criticism but, as much as I enjoyed the switch in focus, Teddy was a sorely missed presence in these sections.

The sections with Teddy once he has met the shadow are particularly creepy, and we are largely kept in the dark regarding the creatures’ motivations, and what purpose Teddy is providing it. It’s an effective build-up of tension which delivers massively in an exciting, action-packed finale.

Take Your Turn, Teddy is an unusual hybrid of a book, tackling two very different styles and doing both well, while managing to make a complete and satisfying story out of these seemingly disparate parts. Unique, eerie and thoroughly engaging, Take Your Turn, Teddy is worthy of a place on any horror lovers’ bookshelf.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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