Derek's Reviews > The Shadow People

The Shadow People by Margaret St. Clair
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's review
Jul 15, 11

bookshelves: appendix-n, pulp-fantasy-library, shaver-mystery
Read from July 12 to 14, 2011

I had associated this book as drawing from or referencing the Shaver Mystery mythos, a statement that on reflection is exaggerated at best. There are similarities: evil subhumans living in the secret places under the earth, the implications of their growing influence in the outer world, the unveiling of the secret knowledge to the everyday characters, and a sort of dreamlike paranoia and sense of persecution. But this work seems more drawn from Celtic or Northern European mythology, of the traditional view of elves in an evil gremlin sense combined with the mythological aspects of a visit to the underworld, with all the travails and conditions for entry and departure.

At least for the book's first half. It's not clear what St. Clair had in mind for the remainder. Dick Aldridge emerges from Underearth some years later to find a world unpleasantly changed and bearing some of the miasma and despair that pervades the subsurface. While it is suggested that the influence of Underearth is somehow responsible, and there are indications of machinations of at least one green elf, St. Clair fails to make the connection explicit and meaningful, and to expand upon the themes of the first half. Instead, it loses its way and delivers an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending.

Honestly, an injection of Shaver Mystery would have done the story some good. Are the green elves manipulating society to make the outer world more like their homeland? Is Dick seeing the world through eyes poisoned by Underearth, or perhaps by mental illness? Can we as reader really trust his narration?

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07/12/2011 page 20
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message 1: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Mayer It did run out of steam in the final third. Guess St. Clair's medium was always the short story.

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