Shadowmancer: Almost unreadable

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review G.P. Taylor ShadowmancerShadowmancer by G.P. Taylor

I didn’t finish Shadowmancer, finally giving up about three-quarters of the way through after oh-so-painfully forcing my way through to that point.

The reasons for not finishing are pretty basic. The characters are mere shadows (no pun intended) of real people, offered up in mostly two-dimensional form with the occasional attempt at depth through clumsy and often lengthy interior exposition. Motivations are either never explored or shift with blinding speed. The plot is a pretty helpless muddle, filled with inconsistencies, gaps, abrupt shifts, relatively unimportant scenes, and improbable actions all layered through with a hodgepodge of myths and magic. The Christian agenda, while not a problem in its own right, is so unsubtle, so pasted on, that one wonders why the author even bothered to change the names of the major figures. After a while the direct quotations from the Bible and the portentous sounding descriptions of Biblical events transparently clothed in new place and people names becomes wearying.

The book is clearly well-intentioned and so I’d like to find something positive to say about it beyond that, but it’s hard to do. There is too much good fantasy out there to invest time in a new series that doesn’t meet the basic requirements of good writing, let alone good storytelling. And calling it “young reader” doesn’t absolve the writer of either failure. If someone really needs to find some good Christian fantasy for young readers, C.S. Lewis is obviously the place to start. I don’t know of any others myself, but if this becomes the next alternative, I’d say just re-read Lewis; you’re bound to get more out of it.


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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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