Stick with me as I begin this review with a tidbit on my bookish interests. Coming-of-age tales have truly been hit or miss for me. I think this is because I can’t always connect with the characters or relate to elements of the story. When I do find it relatable, then the story definitely hits the mark and sticks with me long after I’ve finished reading. So, when I tell you that Shades is a great story, and a solid coming-of-age tale, I really mean it.
I had a great time reading this novella—I finished it in one sitting, eager to discover what was next. There were many elements of this story that worked for me. One was the fact that it’s set in the 1980s, so that automatically drew me in. I really enjoyed the references to that frame of time. I also loved the characters. I’ve got a soft spot for stories about kids with a troubled home life, so I was immediately interested in the protagonist, Danny, and where his story would lead. Gustav was another favorite character. He has some of the best lines in the book, ranging from insults and jokes to well-intentioned nuggets of wisdom. There were several times I laughed out loud, mostly due to the dialogue. I loved the developing relationship between these two characters. There are heartfelt moments sprinkled throughout the story, and the authors have a way with words that gave me warm feelings and nostalgia. There are specific lines I’d love to point out, but I won’t give away any spoilers regarding these bits of the story—it’s best for the reader to experience it firsthand.
I thought the premise of the story was very creative. I liked the concept of the shadows or “shades” of the dead, and what happens with them as part of Michael’s plan. Michael is the villain of this story, and his actions were very unnerving and sinister. There are plenty of supernatural and magical elements to this tale, and we also get glimpses of real life horror. The reader watches Danny struggle through not only the typical discomfort of adolescence, but also family issues and his search for a role model.
With Shades, Cooper and Keene deliver a well-rounded story, complete with solid characters, setting, and dialogue. It was my first introduction to Cooper’s town of Brackard’s Point, and to Keene’s Labyrinth mythos, and I’m eager for more of both. This one left me wishing for a sequel, and while I’m not sure that’s in the cards, I can guarantee I’ll be adding more books from both authors to my TBR list.
Published by: Poltergeist Press
Publication Date: January 9, 2020