The Double Shadow Hardcover – 3 Nov 2011
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A paranormal teen romance with a rare philosophical depth (Financial Times)
Astonishing (The Guardian)
Exciting and fulfilling (Carousel)
Extraordinary -- one of those rare novels published for young readers where we are admitted to a secondary world charged with its writer's exceptional intelligence of both mind and emotion (Books For Keeps)
A rich and compelling book ... a tour de force (School Librarian)
An extraordinary novel of unusual grace and power (The Daily Telegraph)
Remarkable ... lyrical ... unpredictable (The Times)
At times the writing is almost too good -- so visual, so visceral that you can feel the green fog of captured memories seeping out form the pages (The Sunday Telegraph)
What a mysterious and haunting book ... terrifying and fascinating in equal measure (The Bookseller)
Strikingly original (The Independent)
A girl tries to free herself from the terrifying double shadow of her childhood and forge her own future, but she is trapped in a memory machine created by her father.See all Product description
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The plots are interwoven with care. I don't understand the reviewer who was cross about the ending. It was perfectly clear what had happened and how. I'd have been cross if it had been explained - that would have been extremely laborious.
Amaryllis will soon be seventeen. It's 1937 and in Britain there are already signs of an inevitable war. There's something else of major importance happening in her father's picture palace as well. When at the night of a fire several people disappear there's a man called Basil who's starting to ask questions. He's been keeping an eye on the memory machine Amaryllis's father has built for many years and is now afraid the idea might fall in the wrong hands. When more people disappear and aren't coming back it's clear that something isn't right, it isn't right at all.
The Double Shadow has been published by Orion Children's Books and this is one of those rare gems that can easily become a classic. The writing is amazing, the story is beautiful and the idea behind it is so original. I liked the clever theories about time and the memory machine. When the story begins Ezra and Amaryllis are at the end of their childhood, almost ready to become adults. They form an unusual bond, one that's vital to the story. I loved that part and couldn't wait to see how their connection would develop. This book is fantastic on so many levels and all the characters play their own key part. It's is an excellent example of how fine literature can be.
Our story begins in 1937 with Amaryllis Ruben, an impetuous, spoilt, almost 17 yr old, being expelled from yet another school. Her father, widowed millionaire Arnold Ruben, hopes to atone for past errors and neglect by bestowing on his only child the "memory machine" which should erase all painful memories and preserve himself and Amaryllis in an alternate world safe from the impending war. However this gift ends up being more of a poisoned chalice and there are nefarious plots afoot to use the device for evil ends.
Sally Gardner has a wondrous almost wizardly way with words, using simple prose infused with touch of magic. Her characters are so vividly present, you can appreciate her talent as an illustrator complementing her skills as a storyteller. The result is a very special novel which sounds like it's very much set in the 1930s yet remains accessible to modern readers. It's a story about relationships, between father and daughter, mother and son, man and wife. It's about love in all its shapes and forms. It's also about memories and how they can both comfort and haunt us, having a life of their own as a double shadow of our own reality.
If you want a novel which eschews current trends in YA literature, no zombies, nor vampires nor post-apocalyptic plains, then you will relish The Double Shadow, a compelling read which will hook you from the opening pages. If you haven't already read any of Sally's other books, I would highly recommend I, Coriander, The Red Necklace and The Silver Blade .