The shadow arts by Damien Love
The Shadow Arts, sequel to Monstrous Devices, written by Scottish freelance writer, now new novelist Damien Love, feels like a run away blockbuster novel. It has a similar effect on the reader as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone did when first read in terms of its cinematic potentiality. This book, rich in visual imagery and non-stop action is made for the screen.
Damien Love's previous articles for magazines, journals and newspapers focus on music, film,TV and photography. It is no surprise then that his writing maximises the visuals so magnificently.
Alex, our protagonist, is dragged in the dead of night by his reappearing grandfather from his normal life of school, bullies, homework and family. He is immediately caught up in a life and death struggle of great brutality against forces of unparalled evil dating back to the dark ages of forested Europe and having the power to bring the world as we know it to an end. There is a puzzle to be solved and it is intertwined with the presence of evil and magic. Alex thinks that his father was killed but was he...? What is this unknown super power that he seems to have and how does he control it? What has happened to Harry?
Not only does this novel delve back into age-old mythology, there is a continuity - a thread (although what it is is uncertain) that ties the evil past to the terrors of the present. AI, in the hands of evil is all powerful. Life sizers (robots the size of humans) and vicious fliers form an army of relentless, unmerciful assassins controlled by humans with a lust for something that is gradually understood. The last stand is at the sinister Chateau de Saint Clement- a fitting setting for the revelation of the dastardly master minds and their plans.
The reader can revel in the hilarious, clever patter of the idiomatic Scottish/English dialogue between Grandfather, Alex and Harry as they scramble for survival. Although the situations are dire, the droll and dry humour, reflective of the wit and intelligence of our protagonists permeates the perilous situations and contributes to the delight of this book.
This novel is break-neck, it is adrenaline-pumping and it is also a lesson on acceptance and getting on with dealing with life. This series must continue...after all The Shadow Arts finished enigmatically...with" a trick of the light."
Themes: resourcefulness,deadly peril, trust, identity, heredity, ancient lore, secret societies and AI.