Henrik's Reviews > Shadows in the Darkness

Shadows in the Darkness by Elaine Cunningham
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Jun 08, 08

bookshelves: magic-realism, fantasy
Recommended for: anyone enjoying Elain Cunningham, fantasy-like PI stores
Read in June, 2008

** spoiler alert ** A recurring theme in Cunningham's Forgotten Realms stories is family legacies, an exploration of the good and/or bad sides of them. It is a theme that she manages, in my opinion, very well to explore and dig into in a fairly varied and multi-facetted manner.

That familiar territory is obvious in this book as well, the first of (so far) two books featuring the PI protagonist Gwen Gelman. As is the the usage of a willstrong, fiercly independent young woman with unusual powers and talents as the main character (yes, she bears some resemblance, I think, with Cunningham's Arilyn Moonblade in the Forgotten Realms)--not to mention the usage of (HUGE SPOILER HERE, SO IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ IT, STOP NOW) elves.

There's a huge--and important--difference, however: This story takes place in the real world. More specifically, it takes place in today's Providence, Rhode Island, USA; the state Cunningham herself lives, as well as the state and city where H. P. Lovecraft lived--the latter being of some interest to me, of course;-)

Cunningham's take on this blend of things works. It's as simple as that. Fellow-Forgotten Realms writer Ed Greenwood is quoted on the cover, saying "[she] makes me care about her characters. She makes the fantastic real." That's true in the Realms, and it is probably even more true in this "real life" setting. A main reason for this is that I got the impression that she really knows Providence well; the descriptions "rang true", resulting in a believable, realistic background setting for the tale.

Admittedly, I found the first half of the novel less satisfactory than the last half. To me it seemed as if she was sort of trying her way into this story and setting, and most things didn't really grab me: Neither characters (although they stayed interesting enough for me to continue) or plot(s). But when finally the overall setting was in place--boy, was it interesting!

It is a fairly complex and dark tale evolving around missing teens, old men's sexual interest in underage girls (I told you it was dark), dark family secrets and search for an identity in a world where light and darkness blends with the shadows. Some of the twists I saw coming, but not all of them, and that's always nice:-)

The mysteries solved in this story (solved in a satisfying manner) open up for questions to a larger array of mysteries... I am already looking forward to reading #2: Shadows in the Starlight.

That's a recommendation of the best kind, right?;-)

[Btw, please don't let the clicheed titles of this Series frighten you away.]
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