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Shadowmancer Hardcover – April 26, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; 1st edition (April 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399242562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399242564
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,610,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

An apocalyptic battle between good and evil is vigorously, violently fought in British author G.P. Taylor's suspenseful, action-packed fantasy. The story, set in the 1700s on the Yorkshire coastline, revolves around Vicar Obadiah Demurral, a corrupt-but-inept, dead-conjuring "shadowmancer" who desires to control the universe by overthrowing God, or Riathamus. When two hard-luck near-orphans, (13-year-old Thomas Barrick, a bitter enemy of Demurral, and his troubled friend Kate Coglund) band together with a young African stranger named Raphah, they spend the rest of the book trying to stop the wicked Vicar as if their very souls are at stake...they are. Along the way, the three youths meet an enormous cast of friends and foes, some agents of Riathamus, others of Satan (Pyratheon), and some godless (but not for long) smugglers like Jacob Crane.

Readers who love fanciful storybook characters will find mermaidlike Seloth, smelly hobs, leg-dragging servants, goodhearted whores, and benevolent boggles. Age-old superstitions abound, though old magic and witchcraft are clearly denounced here as the work of the devil. Indeed, the author, an English vicar himself, tells a very Christian story and his often deliciously dramatic adventure lapses into stiffly presented glowing-halo Touched by an Angel moments(readers will be lured into the Enchanted Forest, but tricked into Sunday school). Nonetheless, Shadowmancer, the first of a series, is a pageturner bursting with magic and myth, and will appeal to fantasy lovers who don't mind the Bible mixed in with their boggles. (Ages 11 and older) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-The atmospheric Yorkshire coast is the setting for this good versus evil fantasy. Local vicar Obadiah Demurral desires the power to command God. To do this, he needs an angelic figurine called the Keruvim and its human equivalent. As he uses his considerable powers to acquire the Keruvim, a young man named Raphah comes seeking an object stolen from his African kingdom. It is soon obvious that Demurral's angel and Raphah's stolen prize are one and the same. Once Demurral has it and Raphah under his control, he believes he will be master of the universe. Thomas and Kate, two local children, are inadvertently drawn into the struggle. Soon their lives are in jeopardy. The plot twists and turns, revealing that Demurral is not the ultimate evil but merely a tool in the hands of a fallen angel. The book is rich with detailed descriptions that sometimes threaten to overwhelm the story. There are a number of fantastic creatures warring on the side of evil, but at bottom this is a seriously religious story clothed in the trappings of high fantasy. Biblical allusions abound, sometimes bordering on direct quotes. The theme of the triumph of love and light over pure evil reflects the Christian gospel message, with overtones from Paradise Lost. Thomas has dreams or visions of someone who can only be Jesus. Raphah heals a deaf boy and casts out demons. He is also brought back from death. Whether teen readers will understand all this is a matter of conjecture.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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More About the Author

A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, "Shadowmancer," reached #1 on the "New York Times" Best Sellers List in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include "Wormwood" (another "New York Times" best seller which was nominated for a Quill Book Award), "The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street," "Tersias the Oracle," and "Mariah Mundi." Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

I love fantasy, but I cannot recommend this book at all.
Alvin Kimel
The entire book is very slow reading and the plot line is hard to pick out and not well developed or thought out.
Amazon Customer
The characters, for the most part, are quite dumb, even the bad guy Demurral.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I began reading this book very predisposed to like it, but found it terribly disappointing. Having heard good reviews and comparisons to JK Rowling and Philip Pullman, I plugged on til the end, hoping that it would get better, but it never did. While I could see that some children might find the story exciting because of the constant appearance of smugglers, trap doors, hidden tunnels and sliding wall panels, I can't see why this book could cross over into the adult market. I found the language stilted and cliche-ridden and the Biblical allegories unimaginative and unilluminatingly obvious. It seemed like Taylor was trying to write a Christian book that would appeal to fantasy readers and Tolkien fans, but the brazen allegory would have Tolkien turning in his grave. It starts rather obscurely, with lots of occultic references, and ends like a Pentacostal revival meeting, but with none of its power because of the clumsy writing. Although the two child characters through the story are supposed to grow into good Christians (sorry, followers of Riathamus), their development is forced. Here's an example of a key point in the development of Kate, a main character who has been completely one-dimensional up to this point (and remains so, I think.):
"She had lost all the trust she had in [her father], in fact in everyone. Life with her father had never been easy. It was his drinking that had always been the problem. He would fly into a rage at the slightest thing, shout and scream and then break down in tears. For many years she had thought it was her fault, that in some way she was responsible. Kate could never live up to his expectations, she could never be a child, never play games. Her lot in life was to cook and clean, to sew and mend. These were his demands.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Lowery on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
While I was reading this book, I couldn't help thinking of all of the good writers out there who have had no luck getting published. Even if you narrow it down to Christian fantasy writers, I'm betting that there are a bunch that have written something better than this. Welcome to the mysterious world of book-buying.

While Shadowmancer is not without potential, the utterly unprofessional writing spoiled any enjoyment I might have had. It's a mystery to me why this book took off the way it did. I have to say I'm thoroughly disappointed.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. Thomas on June 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I saw the author in an interview on some morning news program a couple of weeks ago. I thought his book sounded interresting, but proceeded to mostly forget about it.
Two days ago I was in a book store and saw the book on the shelf. The cover artwork caught my eye and I read the information inside the jacket. The information on the jacket reminded me of the interview so I decided to buy the book.
Taylor's Shadowmancer tells the story of three teens who are on a quest to save an artifact that had been stolen and resold. The artifact is purported to have some type of mystical powers.
The story takes the teens through some tense situations where they must defend themselves and the artifact against very powerful spiritual beings and against people who would use the artifact's powers to obtain more power for themselves.
I thought the story was very enjoyable. It was not the best book I have ever read, but it was not one that I gave up half-way through either. If you enjoy books with some adventure mixed with suspense and spiritual warfare, you will probably enjoy this book. If you are offended by any mention of religion or spirituality, this book is probably not for you.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Mccomsey on January 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
G. P. Taylor seems like an interesting individual and his story has possibilities, but unfortunately the writing style is amateurish. The characters are so underdeveloped one hardly cares that they spend the entire time in mortal danger. The plot, while interesting, is shallow, contrived, and woefully thin. Taylor forces his story, like a child gasping out a startling event - the details are sparse; events are jumbled; and characters wander in and out for no apparent reason.

This book was a difficult read largely because the many flaws in the plot development ruined the action. For example, the description of Demurral's conversion from well-intentioned preacher to dark lord was completely implausible and inadequately explained. I found myself wondering what actually happened to explain his monstrous make-over. This is only one of many inconsistencies and shortcomings that distracted from the excitement of the story and made for a tedious and frustrating reading experience.

I heard that Taylor originally self-published the book. Maybe the editing got left out in the process. It's too bad. The author has a good idea, but his basic writing skills need work.

One final caution: this book is far darker, scarier, and more occult than Harry Potter, to which it is frequently compared. It is not for younger readers. I found it in the library in the yount adult section.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You just know a book is going to be bad when the author becomes very proud and pompous about it. I recently saw GP Taylor on a BBC programme with several other children's authors, and he spent the entire programme boasting about how good his book was and insulting the other author and their books. I should have known then what this book would be like, but I decided to give it a try anyway. How I wish I hadn't bothered.

Where to begin on all the flaws "Shadowmancer" has? For starters, it's very poorly written indeed. Most of the description is the sort you'd expect to read in a book written by an average twelfth grader. There is no witty or clever dialogue, a lot of phrases and words are repeated several times within sentences, and there are some many inconsistencies you could fill a book with them (such as the wheel at the Boggles' watermill suddenly changing from being made of wood to being made of metal).

Just about every aspect of the book is either unoriginal or lifted from another source. The plot is your typical evil man wants to rule the universe and three children must stop him storyline. Most of the characters are obvious imitations of the characters in the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series (Beadle is a rip-off of Wormtail, the Boggles are a rip-off of Tom Bombadil, the ghosts that suck out peoples' souls are rip-offs of the Dementors), plus the idea of the villain being a vicar reminds me of a Daphne Du Maurier novel I once read. The few genuinely original ideas in the book are mentioned briefly than forgotten about.

The characters are also very poor. Taylor crams in far too many characters, makes a big deal out of them and then gets rid of them. Most of them are left bland and two-dimensional.
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