The Book of M - Peng Shepherd

June 29, 2018

4/5 Stars

 

Near future chiller - thriller with plenty of twists and turns

 

In the near future, at a market in India, a man’s shadow disappears. He’s not alone with this phenomenon, as others around the world lose their shadows as well. Science has no answers. Strange powers come with the affliction, with a terrible price.

 

Ory and Max have managed to survive in a rundown old hotel, away from the others, hiding their days away. Then Max loses her shadow. Knowing she is dangerous, she leaves Ory. But her husband is unwilling to give up on her, and chases after her, hoping to catch her before her memory of him fades away forever.

 

Well, this cheery little number kept me occupied for some time and happily, too. It is a big book and feels like a big book but in a good way. It has an epic like feel to it along the lines of The Stand,The Road and Station 11

 

Although the story spans multiple countries and time lines the world the author has built does seem small. This doesn’t detract from the impressive world building which is rich and unsettling although, at times, a little confusing. We have a dystopian end of days scenario, with elements of magical realism and a thriller thrown in. They all combine well to make this a real page turner.

 

The story works well told from a four character perspective which helps to keep the pace zipping along, mostly. The first third of the book sets the scene for what is to follow nicely but the pace of the book in the middle third slowed and became a little heavy. It was a little bit repetitive and matters didn’t need re-emphasis or exploration. The final third when the story hits the road and nears resolution whizzes along, finishing strongly. Without any spoilers, an ending that made me gasp.

 

The cast of characters in this novel is massively diverse and handled with care. It concentrates on the four main characters where we see each one affected by the shadowless curse in different ways. Ory just wants to keep his wife Max safe; Max is the one who loses her shadow and begins developing strange magic powers; Naz finds herself leading a war to save what she thinks is the key to a possible cure; and last is someone called “the amnesiac”, who also has no memories, but for a very different reason than the rest of the shadowless, and who might understand them better than anyone.

 

The development of the lead characters is excellent. The relationship between Ory and Max really drives this novel. Max is by far the most interesting character showcased by her strong, fierce determination and her journey is the most compelling. Their love for each other is beautifully showcased by the lengths they are driven to, to ensure they come together. The mysterious character of ‘the amnesiac’ could have been explored in a little more depth and thought he was al little wasted.

 

Although there are decent ‘baddies’ i would have liked a single ‘big bad to keep the threat level up. I really enjoyed this book, a massively impressive debut novel full of twists and turns and some really gasp out loud moments that I very rarely get.
 

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