The Shadow Men
by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Review by Steve Sawicki
Spectra Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553386578
Date: 28 June 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Jim Banks is an artist living in Boston. He has a successful career, a wife, Jenny, who loves him, a daughter, Holly, and friends he has known for a long time. His is a happy world, albeit occasionally disturbed by dreams of a city that seems familiar but foreign as well as alien. Then, one day, everything changes. Jenny, and Holly, just disappear. Not only do they disappear but no one seems to remember them. And familiar places, people and situations are all subtly different.
Jim scrambles to make sense of this suddenly changed world. He eventually runs into Trix, a family friend, who, while changed, still remembers Holly and Jenny, and who has an idea--they should go to the Oracle of the city for help. They do this and learn that there are three Bostons; the one they are familiar with; an Irish dominated one; and one where the Brahmans dominate. Each city has an Oracle and it appears that Jenny and Holly have been sucked into one of the alternate Bostons. Jim and Trix are uniques--there are no duplicates of them in either of the other Bostons. Their task, if they wish to find Holly and Jenny and try to bring them back, is to cross over to the other Bostons, find the Oracles, get help and try to return. But things are not what they seem to be and while the initial task seems monumental the real struggle will appear impossible.
Golden and Lebbon have created a unique world here and have driven an interesting plot right through the middle of it. On the one hand it is a classic quest story with Jim having to make his way through trial after trial in order to reach his goal and in another it is a simple story of love conquering all. In between it is a twisted little story of greed and self fulfillment and individual's rising beyond their capabilities just because the times demand it.
I enjoyed this book for the most part. There were a couple of areas where I got confused--still not sure how Trixie ended up so changed and yet not changed--but overall the story worked for me. I was drawn in and moved from opening to completion. The writing is clear and the pace is fairly quick and it's not often that we get to see something set in Boston so the setting is also fairly refreshing.
I'd definitely recommend it for a fun and entertaining read.