Monday, 17 August 2015

Review of Where Shadows Lie

I read Where Shadows Lie by Tialla Rising for the Tour hosted by Itching For Books and in all honesty, that’s the only reason I read this book.

His dark past haunts him. His new life taunts him.            

After twenty years in the gangs and a hefty prison sentence, an early release gives Shawn the opportunity to turn his life around.

But that isn’t so easy when gangs are involved.

Only a year into his fresh start, the gang catches on and makes Shawn’s life miserable. After all, once a gang member, always a gang member. His very blood belongs to them.

Threats become promises. Whispers become actions. Words become bullets. He must fight – not only for his life, but to save his honor, prove his integrity, and protect the woman he loves.

An ember of hope glows in the darkness, strengthening his resolve. Will her support and his determination be enough to dispel the shadows of his past?

A story of discovery and faith, love and perseverance.


Cliffnotes version: Shawn is starting a new life after escaping from a local gang only to find that the gang (named The Shadows) won’t let him go, putting his new life and his new found family (consisting of his girlfriend Virginia, her brother Bryan, her cousin Joy, and his best friend Jackson)  in jeopardy.

Told from a mix of first person and varying third person narrations, the story is presented from many different perspectives all with the same personality, voice, and structure. I was bored. More than that, I was annoyed. We were treated to third person limited but mostly objective which made it hard to understand what the characters were thinking and feeling – the whole point of seeing this story from multiple perspectives. The language itself was stale, stagnant and emotionless. We were told a story, narrated then repeated over and over again until I wanted to walk away. I was constantly asking myself: “Do I need to know this?” and “Does this actually matter?” Usually the answer was a resounding “no”.

And I just could not bring myself to care about the protagonist. Shawn’s character was whiny and superficial. Like an idealized version of the modern anti-hero. It didn’t help that his girlfriend was near perfection as the “preacher’s daughter” architype and the rest of his family were just drawn out stereotypes (Joy, made me cringe with her naiveté).

The plot was nothing special, I even found the character’s attempt at renewal to be uplifting, but the language and the completely repetitive nature of the show left me begging for more action.
My Random Notes While Reading reflect just that: annoyance, frustration, and confusion:
·         I’m big on openings: the action is good; the inner monologue is boring
·         There’s a lot of narration where we could learn from interaction instead
·         This narration is killing me
·         Did you just…no
·         That’s not…what time period are we in?
·         No seriously, what time period is this?
·         Shifting narratives (1st to 3rd) is not a crime, it’s just confusing
·         So you DO have a cell phone
·         The family that overshares together…
·         That’s a medical condition
·         Thank you for selling me this product that doesn’t exist
·         Ah yes, the Shadow Gang
·         This will not end well
·         Oh my god, I’m reading a Disney Channel movie, aren’t I?
·         Was it necessary to switch perspectives?
·         What…was that sexual?
·         If that’s all you told me about him and let me figure out the rest for myself, I’d be happy
·         You ruined it
·         They don’t post jobs like that on Craig’s list
·         Ugh, how old are you?
·         Thanks, Yoda. Wait, is he training to be a Jedi?
·         I’m sorry, that’s gratuitous, stereotypical and offensive to the local crime syndicate
·         What? Moving on. If I stopped every time a sentence didn’t make sense I’d be here for hours
·         It didn’t come to you in a vision. You used contextual clues; which is what I’d like to do with this story. You’re underestimating the reader, here
·         Oh my god *throws hands up in despair and dismissal*
·         If it’s what I’m thinking of it’s cruel and unusual and I like it (after note: it was what I was thinking of, it didn’t live up to expectations)
·         I’m so sorry for your sheltered childhood
·         What kind of jungle do you keep referring to?
·         Wait, Shawn’s not a believer? You’re so repetitive
·         And the illusion is shattered. Beyond foreshadowing
·         Sexist?
·         Sexist.
·         Seriously, is it sexual?
·         I don’t know you, that’s the problem
·         So these guys just hang in the shadows waiting for people who might walk by?
·         I will smack you if you keep talking about your girlfriend like that
·         *barely resists urge to make snarky remark*
·         Corinthians 7:12-14
·         I accept the narcissistic side of your personality, I accept your heroic side, but they don’t match up
·         Almost ironic. I’ll give you a point
·         If you narrated, you remembered
·         How is this suddenly a thing? Action is fine if the players are believable
·         All respect I had for your authority is just gone
·         Either Virginia is superhuman or the hospital board is very lax in their health standards
·         How is that…I give up
·         You say that so casually but that’s not an easy feat
·         Oh my god, how did she get to adulthood?
·         Please kill him and put me out of my misery
·         No, I’m sorry, that’s not an appropriate reference
·         The whole god-damned plan…
·         Seriously? What century are we in?
·         Okay, I kind of find the little antic dotes charming. Like Psycho
·         I’m skipping pages, here
·         That’s not a hint, that’s a warning bell
·         I hate that name
·         Please don’t preach to me. This isn’t an after school special

Honestly, I would not recommend this book, and I almost gave up half way through. It dragged on monotonously and I found no enjoyment in the story.

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