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Half Sick Of Shadows [Hardcover]

David Logan
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 10 May 2012 --  
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Book Description

10 May 2012
On the eve of Granny Hazel's burial in the back garden, a stranger in his time machine - a machine that bears an uncanny resemblance to a Morris Minor - visits five year-old Edward with a strange request. And Edward agrees to be his friend. But Edward is not alone in the world. His twin sister Sophia is about to bring future tragedy upon herself through an all-too-literal misunderstanding of a promise she's made to their father. So while Sophia stays at home, seemingly condemned to spend the rest of her days in The Manse - a world untouched by modern trappings - Edward is sent to boarding school. There he encounters the kind and the not-so-kind, and meets the strangest child. His name is Alf, and Alf is a boy whose very existence would seem to hint at universes of unlimited possibilities ...and who might one day help Edward liberate Sophia. With its Gothic backdrop, "Half-Sick of Shadows" is a novel of many parts: at once a comical tragedy, a dark and dazzlingly told tale of childhood wonder and dismay, of familial dysfunction, of poetry, the imagination and theoretical physics.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857520768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857520760
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,409,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Logans take over the world! Two Logans were joint winners of the Terry Pratchett first novel award: Michael and David. I'm the David, and my novel - hopefully the first of many - is called Half Sick of Shadows.

During the 90s (the 1990s, not the 1890s) I wrote for the horror, SF and fantasy small press. I also published my own magazine, Grotesque for several years.

What else should you know about me? - I have the letters BSc BA and MA after my name but deserve only the c. The letters stand for Boy Seems Conscious But Always Make Allowances.

Moreover, I don't own a cat, but the family up the street lets me borrow theirs.

Product Description

Review

"A most excellent writer." -- Terry Pratchett

Book Description

A dark, dazzling, tragi-comic tale of childhood wonder, time-travelling poets and theoretical physics - joint winner of the inaugural Terry Pratchett Prize. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but promising 24 Mar 2013
By Joanne Sheppard TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If Amazon allowed you to give half-stars, I'd have rated this a three-and-a-half, as three seems too low but four a little excessive.

Half Sick Of Shadows was published after winning (jointly, with Michael no-relation Logan's Apocalypse Cow) Terry Pratchett's 'Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now' speculative fiction prize for debut authors. This makes me wonder, perhaps a little uncharitably, if the author had to hurry to finish his manuscript before the submission deadline for the competition, because - although there are many positive things to say about this novel - my main criticism of it is that to me, it reads rather like a first draft, particularly towards its conclusion.

When I bought this book, I didn't know it had won the prize in question, and therefore I wasn't expecting a whimsical Pratchettesque romp - I mention this because some reviews I've seen on sites like Goodreads and Amazon have suggested this was probably the case for a lot of people who have consequently been disappointed, as this book is most emphatically not that sort of novel. I suspect this expectation has been the cause of some unfairly harsh reviews from readers.

Narrated primarily by Edward Pike (although there are some short sections of third-person omniscient narration - more about that later), it opens with a dysfunctional family living in the Manse, a rundown, isolated house in what appears to be somewhere at least similar to rural Ireland, burying their rather repellent grandmother. At around the same time, the young Edward meets a gentleman in a Morris Minor who claims to be a time traveller and Sophia, his twin sister, promises their bullying father that she will never leave the Manse.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Sir Terry is absolutely right - David Logan is a most excellent writer. Despite living in a relatively warm and sunny place, I felt the Dark and the Cold of the Manse. It's hard to describe what I liked without giving away too much. The book is more than a strange family with dark secrets, although it does remind me of Iain Banks in that respect.

This novel isn't a quick read, and I think ploughing through it quickly means the reader will miss some key clues. There are beautiful turns of phrase throughout, with chinks of humour here and there to break up the intensity. It reminds me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road in the way it's hard to shake off after reading.

I've given it 4 because I felt that there were a lot of threads by the end that didn't quite come together. However, David Logan's writing style is really appealing and I can only expect his work to get better.

My husband read this before me and wanted me to hurry up so he could talk about what it all means. Now I understand what he means. So many questions, so little time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal story 12 Aug 2012
By CJ Savernake TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Slightly surreal, this does not follow the normal story arc that we are told is essential to the modern novel. There is not much in the way of pace, there is no mounting tension, no series of obstacles for the central protagonist to overcome, no obvious character growth... And yet, it keeps you interested (unless your preference is for novels that have these more usual elements - I liked the quirkiness of this novel, so it worked for me).

It feels a fairly random read, with plot and subplot elements seemingly appearing at the author's whim. It starts with 5 year old Edward's encounter with a time traveller, and sets you up with an expectation that something relating to time travel will happen shortly thereafter. It doesn't. Instead, we get to meet Edward's family (the harassed and exhausted mother, Edward's fairy-like twin sister, the pig of a father, the bullying lout of an older brother, and the special needs middle brother), get introduced to their unappealing and less than sanitary way of daily living, and then the unpleasant conditions of his boarding school. Another interesting character (possibly time travelling, though we don't learn until the novel is more than halfway through) pops up at boarding school, but nothing happens with him for ages. And the ending gives very much the feel of "oh dear, I've written over 250 pages, i guess I'd better start wrapping this up now!"

I am not sure what the main plot of the book is - perhaps it is more a hope or expectation that Edward will be able to travel back in time and improve his lot once armed with knowledge about his future, but that would be a long shot. There are a few more obvious subplots, as in, "Will Edward's twin Sophia ever manage to leave the Manse?
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and mysterious 16 May 2012
Format:Hardcover
IMPORTANT(ISH) NOTICE: To forestall any further accusations of underhand inter-author bumlickery (see comments thread on this review), I'm going to make my relationship with David clear up here. David and I shared the Pratchett prize, and by a strange quirk of fate share a second name. We met once, at the awards ceremony, and spoke for five minutes. Since then, we have had irregular email and twitter chat. With that knowledge in mind, you can take or leave the following review as you see fit:

The first thing to say about this book is that David Logan, as Terry Pratchett says on the back cover, is an excellent writer. Half Sick of Shadows is brimming with big-concept ideas, beautiful turns of phrase, gentle humour and a healthy dollop of strangeness.

The story follows Edward Pike as he grows up from a callow five-year-old living on The Manse, a remote farmhouse that seems out of time. Along the way, he meets a mysterious time-travelling stranger, his sister makes a promise that may lead to future tragedy, and he becomes acquainted with an unusual child called Alf, who is far more than he initially seems.

I'm not going to get into any plot details, as that would spoil your enjoyment, which should be considerable, other than to say that one of the larger themes is where creative inspiration comes from.

The publisher's statement upon David Logan winning the inaugural Terry Pratchett first novel prize that the book is "a darkly atmospheric, richly written coming-of-age novel in the spirit of Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory" is only partly true. Yes, in many ways this is like a Banks novel, dealing as it does with a dysfunctional family and dark secrets, and the entire middle section could have been written by Banks when he was in his pomp.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal... But Shows Real Promise
I see that this book has divided the masses. I like that about it. In all fairness to those who have found that it fell below the mark, I can see that the way it has been marketed... Read more
Published 7 months ago by H. Pierce
2.0 out of 5 stars Half Sick
"You built a time machine...out of a Morris Minor ?" is not a line from this literate and literary fantasy fable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rotgut
3.0 out of 5 stars SUDDENLY AWRY
A great two thirds. That cold creaky manse next to the cemetery. The Pike family: cheerless, Bible-quoting father; mother movingly working practically every hour God sends;... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. D. L. Rees
3.0 out of 5 stars Half of a good book
There's half of a good book here. And it's the depressing half; the tale of a sad, dysfunctional, dirt-poor farming family in a rural backwater that resembles somewhere in early... Read more
Published 9 months ago by C. O'Brien
2.0 out of 5 stars Convoluted and confused
Labelled as Fantasy, this book actually seems to contain a smattering of genres (memoir, crime, realism) with some very vague fantasy elements clumsily shoe-horned in for some... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Fiona Mccaw
4.0 out of 5 stars half-sick of shadows
There were two winners of the inaugural Terry Pratchett award. The first was Apocalypse Cow and the second was this one. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Green Book Addict Librarian
2.0 out of 5 stars What just happened?
While this is billed as being about time travel, there's hardly any of the stuff actually in this book. Alf - Edward's invisible (imaginary? Read more
Published 12 months ago by Catriona Reid
2.0 out of 5 stars crikey
This is not a light hearted comedy sci-fi romp through time travel.

This is a harsh, hard depressing tale with a convoluted sub plot that may have be tagged on in order... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mad Saint Uden
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting
The blurb for this book was extremely promising. Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to its promises. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Laura Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special. Either that or I'm missing the point
This book was a real surprise, coming as it did with what I would have thought would be a major accolade in the Terry Pratchett prize. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Max
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