I didn’t finish Shadowmancer, finally giving up about three-quarters of the way through after oh-so-painfully forcing my way through to that point.
The reasons for not finishing are pretty basic. The characters are mere shadows (no pun intended) of real people, offered up in mostly two-dimensional form with the occasional attempt at depth through clumsy and often lengthy interior exposition. Motivations are either never explored or shift with blinding speed. The plot is a pretty helpless muddle, filled with inconsistencies, gaps, abrupt shifts, relatively unimportant scenes, and improbable actions all layered through with a hodgepodge of myths and magic. The Christian agenda, while not a problem in its own right, is so unsubtle, so pasted on, that one wonders why the author even bothered to change the names of the major figures. After a while the direct quotations from the Bible and the portentous sounding descriptions of Biblical events transparently clothed in new place and people names becomes wearying.
The book is clearly well-intentioned and so I’d like to find something positive to say about it beyond that, but it’s hard to do. There is too much good fantasy out there to invest time in a new series that doesn’t meet the basic requirements of good writing, let alone good storytelling. And calling it “young reader” doesn’t absolve the writer of either failure. If someone really needs to find some good Christian fantasy for young readers, C.S. Lewis is obviously the place to start. I don’t know of any others myself, but if this becomes the next alternative, I’d say just re-read Lewis; you’re bound to get more out of it.
Shadowmancer — (2002,2006) Young adult. Publisher: In this spine-chilling tale set on the 1700’s Yorkshire coast, Obadiah Demurral is a vicar set on gaining control of the highest power in the universe. The only people in his way are two children, Kate and Thomas, and their mysterious friend Raphah, a shipwrecked sailor who has come from his home in Africa to reclaim a stolen icon and who offers a tantalizing glimpse of another culture. Their struggle against Demurral ultimately brings them face-to-face with the powers of darkness in an epic battle packed with suspense.