Shadebringer by Grayson W Hooper
|Shadebringer by Grayson W Hooper|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Twisting and turning fantasy adventure that begins in the bloody war in Vietnam. Page-turning read with a great central character and a plot that'll keep you guessing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 300||Date: January 2022|
|Publisher: River Grove Books|
Clyde Robbins signs up for the US Army during the Vietnam War. He's not really that invested in the fight against Communism, nor is he particularly interested in a career in the military. If he's honest - which Clyde usually is, with himself at least - he hasn't got many choices and this one, at least, gets him out of the rut he's in. He's good in training and is quickly put onto a non commissioned officer training course. He's chuffed with himself.
But being in theatre in Vietnam itself soon puts paid to any ideas of glory Clyde may have had. Within days, he's killed his first fellow human being. It's not another soldier; it's a terrified teenage girl, holding a grenade because she needs to feed her family. From there, it's carpet bombing, napalm, suicide missions to rescue grounded pilots... and the inevitable sacrifcing of the lives of his fellow soldiers. One such is Claude. During a particularly bloody battle in the Vietnamese jungle forest, when all seems lost, Clyde decides to read the letter Claude entrusted to him...
... but the next thing that happens after taking the letter out of his pocket is waking up in a forest. It doesn't take Clyde long to work out that it isn't the same forest. And his first thought is that he's been airlifted to safety and is in a coma dream.
But he isn't. Clyde died in Vietnam. He's woken up in Irgwendo, a strange land populated by other dead soldiers and victims of war. And if Clyde thought that his time in Vietnam was a bloody adventure; it was just training for this one. It appears that Clyde is to be used as some kind of secret weapon by a shade spirit in this world and in the war that's consuming it. Will he survive? Is he really dead? And is there any way of moving on from this world, too?
Oh, I did enjoy this first book in a proposed series. I've never read anything quite like it. Told in the immediate, forceful, voice of Clyde himself, it's a compelling read - urgent, energetic, in the moment. Clyde himself is an interesting central character. He's bright, self deprecating, sarcastic, but he is also capable of thinking outside himself and is always looking for answers. The first section, set in the real world, is honest and harsh and the same flavour flows over into the fantasy world of Irgwendo, making its magic dangerous and terrifying.
There's a host of supporting characters - from Jens Gruber, the German from WWII through Frau Gilda who was burned in Dresden, to Miriam, who burned as a witch long before the twentieth century. All of them bring something to the table to add to the strange, chaotic world Clyde finds himself in. The plot twists and turns as it should and we end on a note that makes us look forward to book two.
You can read more about Grayson W Hooper here.
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