The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street (YA)
by G.P. Taylor
Cover Artist: Gina DiMassi
Review by Harriet Klausner
Putnam Juvenile Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0399243461
Date: 10 May, 2007 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In England of 1752, a battle was fought for the fate of humanity. Obadiah Demurral wanted to overthrow heaven and rule the world but three children (Raphah, Thomas and Kate) with the help of Raphael the most powerful angel of all defeated him. The three children are traveling towards London aboard pirate and smuggler Jacob Crane's ship. Jacob never believed in the Creator but after all he has seen he has become a believer. He is taking his previous cargo to Salamander Street, supposedly a place of safety from Demurral. His servant Beadle walks away from his master and hopes to meet with his friends in London.
Raphah gets separated from the others when he falls overboard losing the Keruvim which he left Ethiopia to find. When Beadle, Demurral former slave happens upon a beach he sees a whale and out of his mouth comes Raphah. They head to London together but there are forces that are keeping track of them, pushing them in the direction they want the duo to go.
When Crane, Kate, and Thomas reach London the pirate plans on taking them to Salamander Street. Before he departs, officials board the ship and confiscate it, telling him that Demurral sent word ahead that Crane kidnapped three children and stole something precious from him. When they reach the inn on Salamander Street Galphus takes Thomas to his factory and forces him to sign indenture papers. When Crane comes for him, they see a dead body they believe is Thomas and bury him. Later Kate is taken to Galphus's factory as a prisoner. Crane eventually is captured as well. They are waiting for Demurral to reach them as Galphus is his minion. Raphael and Thomas, after some hair-raising adventures, reach Salamander Street. The group is told that the place doesn't exist on any maps and nobody will find them since nobody has ever heard of it. Good and evil clash for the souls of the children and their allies.
Take the action of Harry Potter, the religious overtones of The Chronicles of Narnia and the story telling of Phillip Pullman and one will have some idea what the Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse Of Salamander Street is all about. The tone of the tale is dark and bleak with the servants of Demurral seeming invincible. It is a classic good vs. evil tale with angels and demons fighting through the people to see who wins the latest battle.
There are many characters that play an important part in this story with each one well constructed whether they are good or evil. The antagonists are very interesting because they play by no one's rules but their own; the different ways they seek power and the overthrow of the Creator makes them fascinating in a hideous sort of a way. Demurral is the personification of evil and everyone knows wickedness is fascinating to watch as they scheme and play for the day the evil will triumph.
The three children and Crane are all that stands between the end of the world and the triumph of goodness. Thomas is pure and is one of the main reason, evil might be defeated. Kate has been contaminated by Galphus but a ghost on the side of the light although trapped in a picture is her only hope to rid the darkness that is now inside of her. The ghost is an ally that the protagonists definitely need. As everyone gathers on Salamander Street, the people begin to realize there is no lack of confidence in the group as forces from beyond guide their steps. G.P. Taylor is a brilliant storyteller writing a fantasy that can be read on different levels so that adults as well as children will enjoy it.