Author: John Lenahan
Publisher: Friday Fiction
Release Date: 1 August 2008 (Ltd Ed)/ 1 January 2009 (Paperback)
I don’t read that many children’s fantasy stories but when I do I tend to enjoy them more than ones aimed at adults and Shadowmagic is no acceptation to that rule. The strength of these types of stories are that they keep the action moving, make things pretty simple when it comes to twists and turns but always have a strong emotional heart.
Lenahan takes us to the The Land where Connor, an average 21st century teenager, finds himself after two Celtic warriors on horseback, wearing full body armour try to kill him. And from there Connor finds out some surprising stuff about himself.
Maybe I have a soft spot for Celtic myth stories but I was impressed by Lenahan as a storyteller. I wouldn’t say that it was a perfect story or that it was perfectly told but there was enough spark there to keep me reading and engaging with the whole thing.
This a story that relies on revelations to move it forward so it would be unfair to go into the story too much but Lenahan manages to give combine a sense of adventure with a strong belief in family.
Maybe that’s what I liked about it so much. Connor is supported at several points by his parents and that he shows no embarrassment at being with them. He does have a reason for being grateful but that doesn’t negate the feel good factor.
If I was being negative the emotional journey that Connor goes through is a bit gentler than it should be and weight of the losses and the risks that he’s taking could have been emphasised more. But then the target audience starts at 12. If I were a 12 year old I’d look up to Connor and how he reacts. Though I’m hoping that the 12 year old audience likes the cool-themed jokes as I’m afraid by the end it was wearing a little thin.
Overall though, I ‘d recommend Shadowmagic to anyone who likes a good dose of child focused fantasy filled with family-values. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in Lenahan’s next book.
Aside: You can hear the whole of Shadowmagic read by John Lenahan on the books website.