1/09/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Bantam Spectra. 325 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), $ 9.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-553-38657-8.
check out websites: www.bantamdell.com, www.christophergolden.comand www.timlebon.net
Part of the ‘Hidden Cities’ group of novels, ‘The Shadow Men is’ the latest which follows ‘The Chamber Of Ten’. There is no continuity of characters other than the basic premise that every city has an Oracle and it is the city that decides who will be the Oracle.
This time the setting is Boston and we meet Jim, an artist married with a child. He suffers from disturbing dreams and they find an outlet in his art. But what if his visions of an alternate Boston are real? When his wife Jenny and their child Holly disappear, Jim is distraught as he can find no one who even remembers them. Something about his home has subtly altered and only when he meets Jenny’s best friend, Trix, is Jim able to confirm he is not going mad. For Trix remembers Jenny, her great unrequited passion and will do anything she can to return the normality of both the people and the Boston she loves.
Together, Jim and Trix must approach the Oracle of Boston, the city’s protector and heart who may help them find where Jenny and Holly have gone. The old woman is keen to help because he walls between the multiple Bostons are breaking down which could destroy all of them. Trix and Jim will have to boldly go through the gateway between the cities if they are ever to find their loved ones. That’s if the shadow men don’t get them first.
At only 324 pages you might think there isn’t time to build up the characters and tension. They are fairly lightly drawn but the premise is based on loss of a loved one and this takes us into the heart of the action. The fear and despair felt when a family member is lost or dies is a very intense emotion and the novel draws on this empathy to quickly pull us into this quest.
Along the way, there are some lively encounters with the shadow men and other people who will strongly affect the outcome. The creation of the alternate worlds and the dangers of what might happen in the gaps between them is succeed if occasionally taking a few extra leaps on non-logic to push for a resolution of the story. There is a good scary climax to the story and a little sadness for the future, too. The multiple universe theories are being used a lot in novels and ‘Fringe’ has made it essential watching, too. It is difficult to maintain the uniqueness but ‘The Shadow Men’ has a more magical element that it pushes rather than just the scientific which edges it away from too many close comparisons with ‘Fringe’. There’s room for all in the multiverse.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA