Book info

Voice Of Our Shadow (2015)

Voice of Our Shadow (2015)
Rating
3.82 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
0575073675 (ISBN13: 9780575073678)
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English
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publisher
gollancz
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Voice Of Our Shadow (2015)
Voice Of Our Shadow (2015)

About book: This was a fairly disappointing read for me, because I was very impressed with The Land Of Laughs. In a lot of ways, Voice Of Our Shadow mimics the format of that book; the first half to two-thirds of each book tries to pass itself of as "literary fiction," only introducing genre elements towards the end of the book. An unlikeable main character, a twist ending, and of course, an affair (as R. Scott Bakker said, the affair is to literary fiction as dragons are to fantasy). The main difference between that book and this one is that in Land all of these characteristics worked to make the story more interesting, whereas in Voice they were simply annoyances.The unlikeable narrator thing is something I can deal with, usually. The thing is, even if the main character is intended to be imperfect, there's typically at least one aspect of their personality that is relatable, or at least interesting. Joe Lennox, I found, was neither relatable nor particularly interesting. He's a weak-willed person of fairly low moral fibre who writes for a living, although he fluked out the one time he wrote something good and hasn't been able to repeat his success. When India Tate is introduced into the story, you can tell right away that she and Joe are going to have an affair, and it really felt like Carroll had to try pretty hard to make it happen. Since it's such a central event in the story and the cause of (or at least the catalyst for) the fantasy/horror elements which occur later in the book, I would have liked for it to have been more believable.The real kicker was the ending, and not in a good way. Without giving anything away, it felt even more contrived than the affair between Joe and India, and made considerably less sense. Whereas the twist ending to The Land Of Laughs was quirky but still satisfying, this one was bizarre, rushed and lacking in anything resembling a resolution.Reading over this review, it makes it seem like I hated the story, but reading the book wasn't a fully negative experience. It's a testament to Carroll's skill that even with a main character who's a weenie, fairly clumsy dialogue, and some forced plotting, the bulk of the book was still engaging enough to keep me reading. A big part of the problem I had with this book was that I read The Land Of Laughs first, and that book set my expectations pretty high. Voice Of Our Shadow didn't live up to them.

This didn't work for me. In fact, it just doesn't work at all. Ghost story, love story, bildungsroman... it is unclear what Carroll was trying to accomplish but he was not successful on any of those levels. It worked on only one level and I will get to that briefly. My main complaint is the clunky, wooden, ridiculous dialogue. No one talks like this, no one has ever talked like this. No one has ever called their illicit lover "Sporty" or "Champ." At times the dialogue actually harms the story due to its wild inappropriateness in context. An example: our protagonist interrupts a violent sexually motivated assault and manages to extract a (previously unknown) female character from the situation. Her response? "Gee, what part of heaven did you say you came from?" She then insists he spend the night in her apartment... because it is a well-known fact that women who have just been sexually assaulted feel safer with strange men sleeping in their homes. Yeah...The novel changes tone about two-thirds of the way through which makes the ending feel forced and completely implausible (even more so than the aforementioned scene). The author's intent for the ending is clear albeit somewhat obvious, but he executes so poorly the reader is left rolling their eyes and muttering "that's it?!" However, I said this novel works on one level and it does: as an extended love letter to Vienna. The city becomes the most intriguing and well-developed aspect of the story and feels more like an authentic character than any sentient (or nonsentient) being. Carroll's descriptions of the city are thoughtful and original and one is left with a better understanding of Vienna, and Austria in general. If Carroll could put that amount of care and attention into his dialogue and storytelling, he'd be onto something.
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Reviews
Felix
I read the German translation, so the review is German as well:Dieses Buch hat mich genauso wie die anderen Bücher, die ich von Jonathan Carroll gelesen habe, in seinen Bann gezogen. Die intensive Beziehung des Erzählers zu den Tates ist stimmungsvoll beschrieben und erinnerte mich in dem steten Gefühl, etwas Bedrohliches lauere im Hintergrund darauf endlich zu passieren, an Ian McEwans "The Comfort of Strangers". Das Ende der Geschichte kommt jedoch etwas überraschend und abrupt, so dass ich mich zugegebenermaßen etwas ratlos zurückgelassen fühle. Daher einen Punkt Abzug. Ansonsten stimmungsvoll sich in Alltag einschleichende Phantastik...Für Carroll-Einsteiger empfehle ich jedoch eher "Das Land des Lachens" oder aber "Ein Kind am Himmel".
Timothy
3 1/2 stars.This was my first Jonathan Carroll book, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I must say, I was pleasently surprised. If you step back and take an objective look at the first half of the story, it really doesn't seem like anything all that interesting: just a tale of a man with a haunting event in his past who falls into an adulturous relationship with a friend's wife. But Carroll's writing lifts the story to a level that kept me interested the whole way. Once the strangeness begins, you get completely hooked and can't wait to see what will happen next. True, some of the frights may not seem so shocking or unsettling, and the ending was a bit of a let down after everything that led to it, but it was still a great read. If you are a fan of Poe or Bradbury, definitely check this book out. I'm sure you will find something in it that you enjoy.
Althea Ann
Joseph Lennox is a young, successful writer who is emotionally haunted by a childhood incident in which he somewhat accidentally caused his older brother's death. Against the backdrop of Vienna, the lonely young man meets an older couple with whom he develops an obsessively immersive friendship... I don't want to give too much away, but the scenario (about half way through the book) develops into a fairly tense and horrific ghost story. (although the book cover bills this as fantasy, I would definitely describe it more as 'literary horror'). However, I figured out the 'twist ending' fairly early - and although I guessed at it, I don't think it worked very well. Not all of the events and emotional turns of the characters' relationships make sense with the ending.This was the second Jonathan Carroll book I've read, and I haven't really loved either of them, although he's quite critically acclaimed. What can I say? (I also read Bones of the Moon)
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