Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden

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There are more than a few skin-crawling moments in this book about doppelgängers showing up in the worst possible way. Rather than a double who wants to quietly live their own life, these are mysterious others on a punishing timetable who are desperate to take over the lives of their counterparts, for better or worse. The addition of dangerous consequences to both duplicates and originals ups the ante. A big part of the tension in the story comes from how and why of the situation. Combined with the strained, interpersonal connections of the characters and the speedy prose, it’s as much about horror as the thrills of being confronted with something they think they can escape. Some of the scenes in this book are terrifying, they bring to life certain fears involving personal invasion and loss of family, the very human struggle against someone hellbent on altering the course of another’s life. The suspense builds slowly, just long enough to want to “shout at the screen” to warn the protagonists. Which brings us to the real strength of the book: the characters and their diverse presentation. Golden doesn’t burn word count sketching out inane details, he skillfully weaves the characterization through their actions and interactions with friends and relatives. When one reacts strongly to another, it’s understandable and this is what allows the story to flow. Even when it’s clear where the duplicates are from and why they are present, it doesn’t hamper the forward progress of the story. When the reader has that mystery revealed, it doesn’t distract from the narrative. In fact, the background surrounding the protagonists and the antagonists drops a seed of interest to cover not only the characters’ pasts, but the past of the… You’ll have to read the book to know what I mean. You won’t be disappointed as fears you never knew you had are brought to the surface.