The Shadow and the Light – by S. K. Michels – Review

Memories, every last one of them

“Memories, every last one of them, memories embroidered with pain and sorrow, bits and pieces of a life that he realized belonged to him.”

From the very first moment, you really FEEL for him, even though he is ‘darkness’. As I read the first chapter, I believe that in a way I understood how Satan must have felt upon being banished to hell! Indeed, the combined burden of agonizing pain, the inner turmoil and painful memories (“Better than suffering an eternity trapped inside his own mind, chased by nightmares that had been all too real in the life that had existed before?”) could not have been carried more appropriately by any other character than someone who represents DARKNESS in its totality!

I love how the author introduces her characters by creating solid atmosphere which is described with such vivid imagery that you actually feel the character, including his pains, emotions, inner turmoil, desires, ambitions, dreams, etc., very well, all through that one atmosphere. That is truly a mark of a solid writer. Take the fantasy elements out of it and you would not find a more a realistic story of two characters standing on opposite ends of the spectrum than this one. The dialogs are often said in a matter-of-fact tone by the characters, which adds to its realism:

“What is he babbling on about, a record?” Nathan heard

Jay mumble to Miles.

“We’ll explain it all later,” was Miles’ distracted reply.

“I’ll take us there.” Baldarich strode into what was left of the village, his massive figure cutting an intimidating sight through the drifting ash and smoke.

On the other hand, sometimes some characters speak in the same way which makes it hard to distinguish between their ‘different voices’. Another negative I found in the book is the usage of lots of choppy sentences; perhaps it is part of the author’s style but it does get irritating at times. However all these minor flaws can be overlooked in favor of the rock solid atmosphere which the author has created; truly it is the atmosphere which carries the story forward and keeps your emotions at an all time high; characters seem to be rather secondary to this intimidating atmosphere:

“Once more, the forest changed, and now it was filled with horrendous moans and sobs. A scene of sweat and blood. Arienne watched as Zain leaned helplessly over his sister, clutching her hand, brushing her damp hair. Tears fell from his eyes onto Zilpa’s face as he spoke words of comfort into her ear. She was white and sickly, and pained grunts escaped through her clenched teeth.” On a lesser note, I also found the chapter titles to be quite creative yet appropriate.

Highly recommended for someone who loves the fantasy genre but wants something different than the ‘run of the mill’ stuff.

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