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The Shadow Men by Christopher Golden
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The Shadow Men, by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, is the fourth in their collaborative series effort called The Hidden Cities. In this story, Boston is the setting. Jim Banks is a successful artist, living in a lovely Boston home with his wife Jenny and 7-year-old daughter Holly, until one afternoon, when he wakes up from a nap after seeing his wife and daugher and friend/art representative Jonathan out for a day of shopping, to find that everything has changed. Jenny and Holly haven't returned, which is unlike them, and when he calls Jonathan to find out where they are, Jonathan denies any knowledge of their existence. It takes little time for Jim to find out that he has somehow slipped into an alternate Boston, one where he and Jenny never met, Holly was never born and Jonathan is dying of the cancer that was caught in his Boston because Jenny insisted he see a doctor. Soon he finds Jenny's best friend Trix in the same weird place, and together they learn what has happened: there are three separate Bostons, in two of which both Jim and Trix died, so that they are Uniques, able to pass between worlds and seek help from the city's Oracle in each world - elderly Veronica in their world, a barkeep in Irish Boston and Sally, an 11-year old Black girl in Brahmin Boston. But there are plots afoot created by Veronica, and in the In-Between place, where non-Uniques might drift, ordinary people become monsters to be used in a war against other Oracles - and Jenny and Holly are somewhere in these places....I've enjoyed the Hidden Cities novels up until now - the first set in London, then New Orleans and most recently in Venice, but this one, well, stopped me. When you find yourself reluctant to pick up the book/e-reader because the story is just so grim, it's really hard to continue on. But because I liked the earlier books, I forced myself through this one, and to be fair the last two or three chapters redeemed the darkness. But honestly, this is a really hard story to read - I mean, imagine for yourself in your own life that in the blink of an eye, the people you hold nearest and dearest, the love of your life and your child, are snatched away into nothingness - not only aren't they there with you, but they never existed at all. And then to go into strangely familiar but utterly alien replicas of your home in order to find them and bring them back? No. It's all a step too far into horror, for me, anyway. I'd still recommend Mind the Gap, the first Hidden Cities book, and the two that followed, but although you don't need to read the others to understand this one - they're all stand-alone, just with the same hidden-worlds-within-cities theme - I'd stay away from this one. The writing is as good as ever, but the feel is just too bleak, at least until the very end. ( )
  thefirstalicat | Aug 14, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Goldenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lebbon, Timmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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When his wife and daughter mysteriously disappear and leave behind a Boston in which they never existed, Jim, who is the only one who can remember them, must travel between fractured cities and find them before the cities reintegrate in a cataclysmic implosion.… (more)

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