Friday, December 19, 2008

Book Review: Shadows by Joan de la Haye

Sarah is struggling through her estranged father’s recent suicide while trying to maintain her relationship with cheating boyfriend Kevin. Unbeknownst to Sarah, Kevin is seeing Denise, who in turn is seeing Kevin’s sister, Carol. Things get complicated in the love triangle when Denise asks something of the siblings that is unfathomable to most people.

Meanwhile, Sarah is falling into despair at Kevin’s neglect of her in her time of need. She falls further into a downward spiral when she starts hallucinating and starts seeing a demon that shows her horrible scenes of carnage. The lines between reality and fiction become blurred as Sarah is tormented by the demon.

Shadows is from South African author Joan de la Haye, and it’s fun to read the Johannesburg slang that pops up in her writing. The rest of the book is just as engaging, making it a quick, nail-biting read that is hard to put down!

I really enjoyed the two storylines, one told from Sarah’s first-person perspective and the other alternating from Kevin, Carol and Denise’s perspectives, but all told in third person. The switches in voice made things interesting and let you know right away whose perspective you were seeing things from.

The characters, while not remarkably likable (the cheating, incestuous Kevin is especially vile), are all very engaging and you can’t wait to see how they will unravel next. The calculating Denise is almost as bad as Sarah’s demon, manipulating both Kevin and Carol at the same time. Carol has her own motives, but follows wherever Denise leads. And Sarah is a needy, dependent woman who gains the readers’ respect later in the book when she decides not to take it anymore and fight back! Sarah’s demon is quite entertaining, though I definitely wouldn’t want to get on his bad side!

The issues in the book are appropriately disturbing as it deals with everything from rape, suicide, incest to poor healthcare systems. Sarah’s demon takes gruesome delight in tormenting her, showing her effectively gory scenes of bloody death of her loved ones. There are plenty of passages filled with grue in the novel, but these never overpower the truly scariest aspect of the novel, which is the cruelty that people can inflict on each other and themselves.

Author Joan de la Haye has crafted a darkly entertaining book with Shadows and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next!

Available from Amazon!

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