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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Death's Shadow by Darren Shan (Demonata, #7) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

You can't cheat death...

3478096

Editions: Hardcover
Pages: 238
Chapters: 23
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

And the gut-wrenching revelations continue. I remember my initial journey through this series, the way I desperately tried to predict the trajectory of Mr Shan's novels, and how I failed. Although the end result is above thrilling, so not being able to predict anything just made it that much sweeter. But it's that memory that stays with me, and how, even having read Death's Shadow before, I'm still amazed. It might not be an entry that has an active apocalypse, but its story is a welcome breath of fresh air that startlingly ramps up the immediacy, without sacrificing the pace or tension.

SPOILER WARNING


Bec's been trapped for over 1600 years, and she's assaulted by modern life now that she's returned.
Left behind with Dervish, Bec suffers a loneliness worse than being trapped.
Dervish doesn't see Bec, he sees the boy her body used to belong to, his nephew: Bill-E.
It doesn't help when werewolves invade the house, and Dervish suffers a heart-attack.
Everything's hanging by a thread.
And the big bad that's rallying the demons together is revealed...

You can't help but think, after finishing Demon Apocalypse, and prior to Death's Shadow, how the hell will he top it? Being completely clueless to the inner genius of Mr Shan's mind, all I can tell you is that he does. This instalment gets so many things right it's hard to believe. The story, the cast of characters that inhabit the world, the fast-paced, electric writing.

You're in for a ride.

We're back in Bec's view, and it's actually pleasant after being with the hero Grubbs. Having been trapped for centuries since the end of BEC, we get to see how that isolation affected her. It wasn't painful, but at the same time it's a testament to her strength, because if 1600 years isn't enough time to send you off your trolley, then I don't know what is.

Her return is also a nice commentary on modern life. Everything's new to her, and while she's mesmerised and awed by how far we've come as a species, she's equal parts horrified. We've ripped up the earth, we're constantly fighting one another; consumed with greed, consumed with petty jealousy. We're capable of so much good, but some truly terrible evil. It's an effective look in the mirror, a moment that has you sat back and contemplative.

We also get a huge chunk of Beranabus's history filled in, and it does wonders for the character he is. How his long live has shaped him into the person he is, and even though people question his actions and conscience, he's a bigger hero than everyone combined.

Dervish, like the world within the story, is also on his last legs. Everything is finally catching up to him: His years of fighting, losing his brother, losing Bill-E; and then a heart-attack hangs him precariously within Death's reach, and with all the losses the side of good faces, hope is running short.

A big, big plus of the book is, surprisingly, what's going on where we can't see, at least not yet. Death's Shadow does a delightful job of reminding us that the other characters - Grubbs, Kernel etc. - are still out there fighting their own battles. It breathes life into the world, making it feel just that little bit more real and spontaneous.

And the big bad comes out from behind the curtain...

It's so fantastical it's almost hard to believe. But fantastical is what the author does best, and this instance is no exception.

That ending...

Heartbreaking and hopeless...


Previous Instalment: Demon Apocalypse
Next Instalment: Wolf Island


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