My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So many things going on, so much to figure out, so(too) much going on in poor
Gene Micah Sam’s head. Shadows after Gene, mysterious clients of the aforementioned shadows, policiers after Micah and Drystan, political unrest, supernaturally cosmic changes, flashbacks of creatures that exist no more, the paranormal aspect of the now, learning the art of stage-magic to pass the time and compete against a rival… I’m sure I must have missed out on one thing or the other.
Shadowplay starts literally in the wake of Pantomime‘s kick off of dust. Ms Lam’s upgraded her setting to a dilapidated, broken, out-of-business magician’s theater. The lack of hustle-bustle, camp fires, quirky circus folks, audience, glitter and the rest was a huge disappointment; I’d initially thought being in a magician’s shadow would provide an even more authentic and, more importantly, fun flair but it was not so. Contributing factor would the extent to which every act, magic trickery is explained, every nuance told in clinical terms and no left stones unturned underneath which magic could have been lurking.
The outline of the two books is very similar, and that makes the turns rather predictable, if not the actual events. Running, hiding, working enthusiastically/feverishly, revelations ho!, work work work and build up to an awesome show of all that we’ve learned that, at least this time, we didn’t miss much of. Before we has a pantomime, this time it’s a magic show.
Gene Micah Sam’s accepted his personality for the most part and the one element missing is the confusion on gender identity, which made up an integral part of Pantomime. One of the better things I liked personally about Shadowplay was the clearance of the Kedi issue. In Pantomime, Micah was under the impression(from ignorance, improper info etc.) that people like Micah,, were magic creatures and special and worshiped in the early days. Now Micah’s told in no uncertain terms that his anatomy has nothing to with his powers, that people can be intersexual regardless of their species- humans, Elder, chimera. Seriously, if I have to pick my favorite moment this would be it ’cause I was offended by this misconception in Pantomime. He’s now become a more freer person, who has no inhibitions about dressing up in skirts and longs for it a bit, nor does she want to abandon the freedom of trousers altogether.
I had been rooting for Drystan the White Clown who was secretive, funny, tart and all that in the first book. However, now I think he’s lost his charm. While he’s given a lot of screen time, yet there’s very little of him. Once he gives up his secret, I think he fades into the background. There’s not enough of it that the romance overshadows the plot, but there’s way too little. I could detect no chemistry between the two, no unfurling of love and it’s a complete mystery to me how they fell for each other. Sure, there were words and hints and fumbling hands, but I didn’t feel the zing. And no, it’s not because it was meant to be a soft and subtle love.
Like I said before, too many elements. While most of these were given their due representation and chasing after, the social issue wasn’t
properly integrated into the storyline, ultimately leading to shaky world building of Ellada. It stuck out like Umbridge amidst good people, normal people. Another thing is that the two many things to catch and research and find more about led to threads of thought that ended, and were immediately followed by one entirely unrelated to the previous. All this persevered to create only a cluttered and chaotic effect. Moreover, the flashes from the past took away a lot and consumed too much time; due to them, the pace of story kept being interrupted and frankly, they were hard to get through.
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
True, Shadowplay is all that but the mayonnaise of this sandwich has been replaced by hardened cheese which clumps together in places, and barely, barely, manages to hold it together.
I know I’ve made it sound like Shadowplay‘s not worth reading for fans of Pantomime except it is, if you were really into Micah/Gene’s story. It had its moments where it shone but for those who had mild, inbetween feelings about it, I think you should forgo this book. This cheese won’t be a good substitute for you guys.
Many thanks to Strange Chemistry for providing a review copy.