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Shadowplay Paperback – December 17, 2013
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"Pantomime took me into a detailed and exotic world, peopled by characters I'd love to be friends with...and some I'd never want to cross paths with." - Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer Trilogy "Who hasn't dreamed off running off and joining the circus? Laura Lam's Micah does just that, discovering a world of clowns and acrobats, con men and tricksters, corruption and incompetent doctors, and maybe more about himself. I look forward to more from this author." - Brian Katcher, author of Almost Perfect and winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award "Micah is the most wonderful, complex, brave and contemporary teenage hero I've read, facing issues of identity and responsibility that will resound with any reader who has felt like an outsider. Pantomime is loving in it's detail but hints at so much scope to come, it feels like the set up for an epic sequel. I raced through this book, desperate to know what happens next. 'Look out behind you' Robin Hobb - " - Bryony Pearce, author of Angel's Fury. "Welcome to a world of shills and showmen, fading tech and circus freaks, where nothing and no-one is what it appears. An absorbing, accomplished debut." - Elspeth Cooper, author of the Wild Hunt series
About the Author
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, CA by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart's desire, color outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.
She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn't. At times she misses the sunshine. The author lives in Scotland, UK. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Shadowplay, I am happy to say, is a good middle book. As the second book in Laura Lam’s Micah Grey series, Shadowplay opens after one crisis and ends with another, but the path between them never feels like filler.
The events at the end of Pantomime force Micah into hiding again, this time with Drystan at his side. Drystan calls in a life-debt from the disgraced magician Jasper Maske to secure a hiding place at the dusty Kymri Theater, and thus begins Micah’s second adventure. Again, Micah goes into hiding. Again, Micah takes on a false identity. But the difference in Shadowplay is that he does so in plain sight. And at night he has a place to return to where people know who he really is and accepts him for that. I loved that nuance.
One area ripe for exploration that was missed, though, was Micah’s new identity. In the city of Imachara, while outside on the street, Micah wears a small piece of Vestige which makes him appear to be Temnian. In the book, Temnian people are coded as people of color; visibly foreign and visible different—“from the colonies,” mistrusted. As Sam (Micah’s name when passing as Temnian), Micah should face structural oppression. Unless Ellada is much further along in terms of race relations than we are in the real world, this should probably have been more than a couple of scowls on the street as mentioned in the text. This oversight is compounded when Cyan, an actual Temnian girl, joins the group. She either never speaks of whatever structural oppression she faces or she never experiences any. She seems to have no feelings on the matter that these two White kids are passing themselves off as Temnian. I’m not saying she should be bothered by it, necessarily, but she probably should have had an opinion on it one way or the other. In any case, there is a potential for this element of the book to rub readers of color the wrong way since Micah is literally using race as a costume for large sections of the book without any substantial reflection of what that means.
That said, I did truly appreciate that in Shadowplay Lam began to unweave Micah’s intersexuality from his apparent special abilities around Vestige—which become more pronounced in this book. We learn more about that in Shadowplay; the Phantom Damselfy herself becomes a prominent character with a name and a history and a future. We also learn that there are others with similar abilities in Micah’s world. It’s confirmed more than once over the course of the book that it may just be coincidence that Micah is intersex and has these abilities. Micah is allowed to be just Micah.
Shadowplay is excellently paced and explores a different part of Elladan culture than Pantomime—magic shows and seances. I, actually, am fascinated by the historical spiritualism movement and the practices of debunking seances, so this was an oddly perfect match for my interests. Between Micah’s Phantom Damselfly induced visions, magician training, and tracking down people who are tracking down him, there is plenty of plot to go around. There are double agents. There is a slow-burning, very sweet romance, but not before the trauma of the ending of the first book has to be dealt with and processed by both Micah and Drystan. There is the question of Micah’s weird abilities and the potential and the danger they pose. And there is a hell of an ending and the questions it raises
I cannot wait for Masquerade.
I have to start with the romance. Shadowplay has one of the most adorable romances that I've ever read. I think it's fairly obvious who the love interest is going to, but I won't mention their name in case it is a spoiler. However, I was so happy for Micah to get a second chance at love, especially with someone he doesn't have to hide from. Things start slowly with a longing glance here, and an arm around the shoulder there. Soon they're sharing passionate kisses and getting to know each other better in other ways. I felt my insides turn to goo. They are just so sweet together!
Shadowplay did have me a bit worried in the beginning. Micah had already been forming some theories about himself in the previous book, but now he's having visions and can speak to someone who knows more about what he is. Where my worry came in was where Micah thought he might not be human. Why does the intersex character have to be something other than human? Can't he just be special based on his actions and character? However, as the story moves forward and Micah learns more, it's revealed that his physical condition is not linked to the extra something that he is. That's all about his ability to light up the Penglass and some other things that appear throughout the book.
I absolute loved all of the magic and illusion throughout Shadowplay. We get some behind the scenes information about some of the tricks as Micah and Drystan train. Then we get to see their entire performance during the duel, as well as a séance. I liked the theater setting much more than the circus, and it was a lot of fun to read about the magic. The plot also picked up the pace this time. Someone is following Micah, but who and why? On top of that Micah is going to be an important player in bringing Chimaera back into the world, but will he survive it?
Shadowplay does end on a cliffhanger. It's a bit dire, but I have faith things will work out, otherwise there wouldn't be a third book!
*Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review. No compensation was offered or accepted.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved Pantomime.Read more
Shadowplay is set in a world where stage magic and real magic touch, where steampunk, fantasy, and science fiction combine to make a...Read more
Micah and Drystan are in hiding after the devastating events that transpired their last night at the circus. The pair are wanted for the murder of the ringmaster.Read more