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Shadowmancer
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on 4 June 2015
If you took the literary illegitimate child of Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, Indiana Jones and the Bible, then you might get some weird offspring that looked a bit like this terrible book. It's clearly been published riding on the back of the success of the Harry Potter books but where it falls down is that the child characters in the text are flat, dull, boring and completely unrounded. Therefore when we meet Kate screaming at what could have been a good character in Jacob Crane (if he'd been better constructed), it's about as appealing as watching a child having a tantrum in Tesco's. She just seems like an obnoxious brat who spends most of the text screaming, seemingly. Thomas could also have been a good and interesting character but he's not. The reader ends up not caring about the fact that he's living in a "Hob Hole", starving and without the protection of his parents. The storyline is rambling and confusing - I gave up on page 226 (something I very rarely do) because I couldn't stand to read such abysmal crap any longer.

Worse, it's derivative crap - the child characters are aiming to be like Harry Potter, but don't quite live up to that. The action seems a bit Indiana Jones-ish (Indy used a similar item as the corrupt vicar to find the Lost Ark of the Covenant) and the belt of truth given to Thomas is lifted straight out of Wonder Woman. But what really rankles is that this book just doesn't know what it is. There's an awful lot of God in here (named Riathamus in the text, as if that's going to put us off the scent as to what we are really being sold here) but when the narrator starts referring to him as "the King" and "God" then it just starts to read as a spiritual text. Now there's nothing wrong with Christian literature (if you're into that kind of thing) but what I have a problem with is being mis-sold Christian literature under cover of a children's fantasy novel. It should either be proud of what it's preaching or not preach at all.

There were two very little things I liked in this book: Whitby and the portrayal of the sea ("You can get a boat from Whitby – take you anywhere in the world." p. 163) and the folklore lifted from Whitby (the barguests, the way the spirits are portrayed in a very Dracula-esque way by being made up of motes of light) but these are things which are directly traceable to the area, rather than the genius of the author. There is nothing original in here at all. It is an incredibly derivative text and quite frankly, life's too short to waste precious time reading stuff like this. If you want to read a good Whitby novelist, I recommend Mary Linskill or Storm Jameson. You get all the folklore and love of the beautiful town of Whitby in their texts but they are totally original and a joy to read.
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on 9 December 2003
I bought this book from Amazon and found it an interesting read. I have noticed some publicity reviews ask, "is this hotter than Potter?"
In my estimation this doesn't come anywhere near the standard set by Rowling. I think that what is wrong with "Shadowmancer" is; it is too dark and too full of evil.
There are no characters you can love - like Hagrid - for instance
There are no characters you can laugh with - like Ron.
There is no one you want to protect - like Harry
There is no light relief in the book "Shadowmancer" at all.
I mean, let's face it, even Snape can be fun, especially when he's so convinced that Harry is at the back of everything.
I supect that Shadowmancer was written to be specifically more frightening than Potter but to be scared in a book - you need to be off-guard. In other words, you need to be laughing one minute and crying the next minute.
Then when the demon strikes, you're frozen with fear!
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VINE VOICEon 25 February 2014
This was another very atmospheric and super read from G.P. Taylor for me - and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It's the second great book I've read by this author; the first being the fabulous `Wormwood'. (see my review for that title) My one and only gripe with this was that so much of the story subtly related too much to the bible and Christianity beliefs - without actually mentioning or referring to them directly I felt. I do prefer my fantasy and sci-fi reads to be totally independent from those subjects/topics, but at times I felt I was reading something vaguely `religious' which I don't recall feeling with the previous read. However; this is a tiny gripe, and did not deter too much from the great read that it was, and am already looking forward to my next read from this great Writer!

Another Five Stars from me!
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on 13 January 2013
This book had good reviews and I was excited to buy it for my two children but neither of them liked it and said it felt 'dark' in its content.
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on 17 June 2015
very good
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on 27 April 2016
Great characters to get your teeth into,often leaving you on cliff hanger so you need to keep reading. I saw a film based on author's book and was intrigued to read some more what he has written.
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on 17 September 2003
I had extremely high hopes for this book - too high, as it turned out. The attractive jacket (don't judge a book by its cover) featured several glowing reviews from the Times, the Guardian and the Observer, one of which described 'Shadowmancer' as 'the most important phenomenon in children's literature since Harry Potter'. Faber and Faber are not renowned for publishing pedestrians.
Those high hopes of mine, though, sadly did not survive the opening lines. Perhaps it's because we've seen so much extraordinary writing in children's literature recently, but every thread in Taylor's clumsy weave has already been treated, and treated really well, in one, if not several, seriously good books. Historical fiction with real-life details, smells and textures? Kevin Crossley-Holland's 'Seeing Stone' trilogy is sophisticated and exciting, and the overlaid and interwoven Arthurian legend contributes enthralling extra dimensions to the tightly-plotted story of the young protagonist. The undeniably fascinating world of white magic and black sorcery, Dark side and the Light? Even without mentioning J.K. Rowling, there are innumerable giants in this field - try Susan Cooper's 'Dark is Rising' sequence, or Diana Wynne Jones' 'Howl's Moving Castle' or her latest, satisfyingly hefty book, 'The Merlin Conspiracy'. Iconoclastic and daring attempts to deal with the touchy subject of religion in a book written for children, the reclamation and renewal of the fraught symbols of Christian faith? Philip Pullman is a hard act to follow, and as far as I'm concerned, mentioning 'Shadowmancer' in the same breath as the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy is little short of blasphemous.
Taylor's style incorporates one idea in each very short sentence. No commas. The occasional dash. Semi-colons? Don't make me laugh.
The effect of this, besides the obvious jerkiness and lack of flow and poetry, is oddly patronising, seeming to imply that long sentences will be too much for child readers - I tried to remember the last time I had encountered such a style, and then I realised.
'Peter throws the ball. See Spot run. See Jane run.'
His characters are almost entirely two-dimensional (although I did enjoy tomboy Kate's giving in to anger - 'It was her favourite emotion'), and a narrative voice hovers at the reader's ear to whisper irritating and obvious moral judgments on the villains.
The book's worst fault, however, is its clumsiness. Its involved plot requires a firm authorial hand and a measure of self-discipline in which Taylor is quite evidently lacking (again, compare Wynne Jones, who constructs the most convoluted of plots without any loss of clarity or interest). The reader loses interest, loses her place on the page, loses the plot. And cannot be bothered to reacquire it.
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on 13 April 2014
I normally try to see the good in any story, but in Shadowmancer there is nothing. It remains to be my most hated of novels, and here is why.

The story is flat and exceptionally uninteresting, hardly building in pace throughout the story and leading to an utterly anti-climatic conclusion. Many plot threads are thrown into the story at random, often being abandoned without any kind of adequate explanation to why they were their to begin with. The end result is a story that just seemed muddled and often contradictory.

The characters are also utterly flat and possessing of no interesting personality traits. They do absolutely nothing to impress themselves on the reader and I often had difficulty telling one from another. Its female lead is by far the worst of the bunch as her plot arc actually causes her to unravel rather than develop - starting her off as strong character and having her grow increasingly ineffectual as the story progressed.

Worst of all was the heavy-handed religious message which lacked any kind of subtlety. The general message that the novel gave was anyone who did not believe in the Christian God was possessed or otherwise deceived by demons. The novel reads as little more than an evangelical pamphlet, as numerous characters are converted through Raphah's 'compelling arguments'.

Abysmal literature. I would not recommend this novel to anyone.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 July 2015
I looked at the comments on this book only after I had bought it and read it. When I bought it, I was intrigued by the story of the self-published author who became an underground hit in England, and so decided to give it a try. If only I had checked here first.

Bottom line - every one and two star review is right. Further, since I note that the most recent review are fairly old, I wish to emphasize that this book is still, now, terrible.
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on 26 July 2012
I read this one a while back, was very disappointed, and wondered if it was just me. It's nice to see I'm not alone. I sometimes feel 'literature' is like a lot of modern art. It doesn't have to be good to succeed, it just needs friends in high places.

The hype surrounding this book was quite extravagant - much like Artemis Fowl, another book I couldn't finish. JK Rowling has her critics, but, whatever her failings, she writes a rattling good yarn. Unfortunately, publishers always jump on the current bandwagon in the hope of making a fresh fortune. Good for GP Taylor - and I don't begrudge him his success at all. But I won't be reading any more books in the series.
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