Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: 'Shadow Maker' by Amir Lane

Canadian author Amir Lane is an engineer by trade and a ‘writer of supernatural and urban fantasy novels and short stories, a voice actor, a chronic procrastinator, and actually a bird. ‘It is not clear why Amir refers to self as they unless the book is a joint writership. But sensing the humor that abounds in the book we likely will at some point discover more about this talented author. Amir is defined as a masculine name.

Amir’s novel deals with (among other things) a character who is a necromancer. For those unfamiliar with the term, according to Wikipedia ‘Necromancy is a supposed practice of magic involving communication with the deceased – either by summoning their spirit as an apparition or raising them bodily – for the purpose of divination, imparting the means to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge, to bring someone back from the dead, or to use the deceased as a weapon, as the term may sometimes be used in a more general sense to refer to black magic or witchcraft.’

Amir’s stylish prose opens an invitation to follow the journey established in the opening sentences - ' Shadows danced across the walls and ceiling, unattached to anything. Nobody but Dieter seemed to notice them. Raspy whispers echoed off the walls of the small lecture hall and drowned out the professor’s voice. Diederich Lindemann looked up from his notebook, his mouth twisted in annoyance. ‘Shut up,’ he almost hissed, ‘I’m trying to listen here, you ***holes.’ But nobody’s lips were moving. Everyone’s heads were bowed over the long tables, scribbling in notebooks or on tablet screens, or tapping away at keyboards, or dicking around on phones. They’d called it paediatric schizophrenia when it first started, and regular schizophrenia as he got older. It was the easiest explanation for the Shadows and the Voices that no-one else saw or heard. Medication didn’t help much, but the therapy wasn’t bad. He could tune them out most of the time now. Key word being ‘most’. Dieter tried to turn his attention back to the lecture. Easier said than done when all he could hear was nails scraping against wood. It was as if the Shadows were trying to claw their way through the dark paneling on the walls. He ignored it as much as he could, but the scraping just wouldn’t stop. It was all around him, practically inside his skull. His stomach twisted into an anxious knot. He was three seconds from puking. If he had to listen to it for another minute, he was going to scream.’ That is a fine overture to where this talented writer is taking us.

The story is distilled on Amir’s website – ‘Physics major Dieter Lindemann is perfectly content living in a world where the Shadows he sees and hears are nothing but hallucinations. But when one attacks him, he's forced to confront the fact that the Shadows are not only real, but dangerous. Though Necromancer Alistair Cudmore offers to help him, Dieter quickly realizes that what he and Alistair want are two very different things, and it's difference that could cost him his life. Controlling and possessive, Alistair pushes him further and further into blood magic. An incident at a club forces him into Necromancy, and he's dragged down into a world he never wanted any part in. As the spirits and Alistair grow more and more violent, Dieter must break away from his mentor and learn to control the Shadows on his own before they destroy him. Only, Alistair isn't about to let him go without a fight.

This is act one of an ongoing series that almost guarantees that after finishing SHADOW MAKER the reader will be addicted. Very fine sci-fi fantasy with a solid footing in psychosocial variations and a refreshingly comfortable integration of same sex feelings and actions and responses. Grady Harp, March 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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