Book Reviews

Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard – Book Review

The book cover of Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard – Book Details

TITLE – Run Time

AUTHOR – Catherine Ryan Howard

GENREthriller, mystery, horror, suspense



MY RATING – 4 of 5


A huge thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard in exchange for an honest review.

What It Is About

‘We’re shooting a feature […] down at the main house. […] A horror movie. […] So if you hear any strange noises […] don’t, you know, think someone’s getting murdered and call the Gardaí.’

Adele Rafferty’s acting carrier has seen better days. In fact, she is desperate for a gig successful enough to draw attention away from the crashing failure her last project was.

And a chance she gets. Adele is suddenly invited to last-minute replace a leading actress in the new psychological horror called Final Draft. For it, she travels to West Cork, Ireland, to a remote location in the middle of the thick fir forest.

Something feels off from the start. The almost palpable isolation, the crew acting strange, small clues around the set that suggest Adele hasn’t been told the whole story.

But when the weird turns into downright terrifying, will Adele have time and opportunity to flee? Or is she stuck at a remote cabin in the middle of wilderness, a perfect setting for a horror movie and with someone clearly lurking around?

Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard – My Review

Final Draft – Based on a terrifying true story. That hasn’t happened – yet.

Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard is one of those books where I totally see where all the mixed reviews are coming from. But at the same time I enjoyed it so much, I feel like rereading it right away.

I read 56 Days last year and I enjoyed it. I was looking forward to checking out what next the author was going to come up with. And for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

There’s something about Catherine Ryan Howard’s writing that works for me. I always manage to click with her protagonists, even though I don’t think we are similar at all. But that connection keeps me glued to the pages, rooting for the MC, unable to stop wondering what is going to happen next.

Like in this case, it was so easy for me to understand where Adele was coming from and why she felt she needed the part so much, she was willing to risk quite a bit for it.

And her reactions when strange things started to occur – I’m pretty sure that’s how I would react, too. (Or – almost).

Run Time is a slow burn light horror that kept me guessing till the end. I wouldn’t say it was scary, but it did manage to build quite a suspense. This was a pretty compulsive read for me. Total slasher movie vibes.

The dense fir forest loomed above the car growing darker with every twist and turn of the narrow, crumbling road…

For me, the feeling of isolation was done so well. The remote location paired with the endless heavy rain – it really managed to make me feel how Adele’s world was slowly shrinking like a cage around her.

Funny – in 56 Days, isolation also played an important part, only in that case it was because of the COVID-19 quarantine. But I think that’s Howard’s strong writing point and I hope to see it in her future work as well.

Back to Run Time. I don’t know how much you want to know about the plot, and obviously I’ll try not to spoil it for you. But if you want to know nothing, maybe skip the next three paragraphs. Not that it’s some huge spoiler, but…

Tentatively, Kate turns the book over. It’s open to the dedication page. To Kate, who should never have come to Cherry Cottage.

I actually really loved the story within a story within a story concept. Basically, Adele reads a script titled Final Draft about Kate who read a book called First Draft, which is about a woman who ends up at an isolated place, very similar to both Kate’s and Adele’s current location.

Which raised the creep factor to a higher level. Seeing what was happening to Kate as similar things start to happen around the movie set… And the fact it was clearly planned way upfront… It glued me to my kindle, heart pounding and needing to get to the bottom of it all!

And then the ending – it was ok. Can’t say I was blown away, but it also wasn’t the worst I’ve read; far from it.

So, I enjoyed this read quite a bit. I actually found it perfect for the summer. I know, I know! But, all the rain reminded me of fast and heavy summer downpours. Plus, this was kind of a perfect campfire horror story. Like a ghost story with no ghosts.

I stepped closer and stopped, pointing the torch at it, bending to look. But the slap of my footsteps didn’t stop.
I frowned, confused, and then realising, I froze.
What I was hearing weren’t my footsteps.

So, let’s quickly mention what I didn’t like about Run Time. Well, there were a couple of small inconsistencies. But most of all, the plot was really slow, with lots of details and descriptions.

And I like slow burns, so I still enjoyed the book overall. But, even to me it felt occasionally like the story was dragging.

Also – well, I guess you could argue that the story didn’t quite feel realistic. But it’s a horror-ish book, I didn’t expect it to be too real. So I was fine with that.

So, that’s it. Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard is coming out in August 2022. And if a slow horror story set at a movie set deep in an all-consuming forest sounds good to you, I’d warmly recommend you to check it out. And when you read it, let me know what you thought of it :).

I know this book wouldn’t be for everyone. But I’m quite happy with what I’ve got from it. Now I have to go and check The Nothing Man already. And I can’t wait to see what the author will come up with next.

My Signature

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