Shadowland

Shadowland

You have been there…if you have ever been afraid.Come back. To a dark house deep in the Vermont woods, where two friends are spending a season of horror, apprenticed to a Master Magician.Learning secrets best left unlearned. Entering a world of incalculable evil more ancient than death itself. More terrifying. And more real.Only one of them will m/>Only...

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Title:Shadowland
Author:Peter Straub
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Shadowland Reviews

  • Maciek

    Peter Straub came to prominence in 1979 with

    , an old fashioned spooky ghost tale which I wasn't really a fan of (though I appreciate it). A year later, in 1980, he published

    , a coming of age novel which can be classified as dark fantasy with horror elements. This time, I say, he penned a winner.

    is concerned with the friendship of two boys - Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale - which began at the private all-male school they both attended. As both try to fight the horrors all young boys/>

    Peter Straub came to prominence in 1979 with

    , an old fashioned spooky ghost tale which I wasn't really a fan of (though I appreciate it). A year later, in 1980, he published

    , a coming of age novel which can be classified as dark fantasy with horror elements. This time, I say, he penned a winner.

    is concerned with the friendship of two boys - Tom Flanagan and Del Nightingale - which began at the private all-male school they both attended. As both try to fight the horrors all young boys have to suffer at one stage of their lives or another, Del introduces Tom to his world of magic tricks. When they both decide to spend the summer at Del's Uncle's house in New England, Tom discovers that things can be much more sinister than they seem. At Shadowland, their lives will be changed forever and after that summer nothing will be the same.

    is a beautiful novel unlike most fantasy or horror works. Straub is a master prose stylist who crafts to perfection (he wrote the novel longhand in multiple journals, and then retyped it on a typewriter - who can imagine a writer doing that nowadays?) and the result is an intricately detailed work, structurally complex and above all, stylish. Opening with a prologue which reads like a feverish dream which makes us see the strangest things, the novel expertly morphs into a coming of age school story, and only after that unleashes its full power. Straub introduces characters, plots and subplots within those, but nothing is without purpose in this story; he draws heavily on various folk tales (and even includes some of his own making) thereby seducing the reader who is surprised with each revelation - and the horror is only starting. From the afterword:

    Reading

    is much like witnessing a spectacle of illusion and the uncertainity it evokes. The aura that "something is terribly wrong" never leaves, and if an enchantment was cast, it is a dark and haunting one. One of the things that are immediately noticeable is Straub's shift in approach to horror;

    was largely constrained by the Victorian history of the genre, where the horror needed to be subtle and only hinted at; Though

    is a subtle and suggestive work, it escapes this convenction and Straub plays with the subtle and blalant terror wth marvelous results.

    is a masterful, unacknowledged work by a writer who has remained in the shadows far, far too long. Peter Straub possesses an imagination without boundaries along with the gift of marvelous storytelling and the ability of bringing things to life with the most amazing imagery and constructing atmosphere that is gothic, unsettling, elusive and hallucinatory all at once. Intriguing and complex,

    will please every reader who enjoys well-crafed fiction that demands full attention and forces to think about what it presents. A truly magical tale.

  • Barry

    Some of the more surreal moments, as well as the occasional switches in narratives, made this book a little hard to follow at times, but there IS a reason I gave this book five stars: it was terrific. It's not the all-out horror fest that the cover (of the 1980's paperback) promised, but there were some truly gruesome scenes towards the climax, as well as a general tone of mounting tension throughout.

    Tom Flanagan is a very memorably three-dimensional young protagonist, and all the co

    Some of the more surreal moments, as well as the occasional switches in narratives, made this book a little hard to follow at times, but there IS a reason I gave this book five stars: it was terrific. It's not the all-out horror fest that the cover (of the 1980's paperback) promised, but there were some truly gruesome scenes towards the climax, as well as a general tone of mounting tension throughout.

    Tom Flanagan is a very memorably three-dimensional young protagonist, and all the conflicts of childhood innocence and naivete being challenged by oncoming adulthood (and in this case, some more unusual challenges!) make him all the more believable.

    The twisting narratives, like multiple concentric circles (overlapping each other at times!) are also highly engrossing, and never boring (not even the miniature "stories" - which have everything to do with the plot, and cannot be skipped!). The only thing that I fear may turn a lot of readers off is the slow buildup of the first 140 pages or so, describing the boys in school: I cannot begin to tell you how important it all is to the story later on - it's not just filler!

    'Shadowland' was an enchanting read, and all the more welcome for its subject matter in the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Seriously - read it, and enjoy it thoroughly.

  • Rick Urban

    During the extremely unsatisfying experience of reading Lev Grossman's "The Magicians", I kept thinking of how much better Straub's treatment of similar themes was, so literally the minute I finished "The Magicians" I went to my bookshelf and picked out this book to re-read. With it's nods to everything from Grimm's Fairy Tales to Hans Christian Andersen to John Fowles' The Magus, this is both a literate homage to the art of storytelling and a gripping story in its own right. The tale of two boa

    During the extremely unsatisfying experience of reading Lev Grossman's "The Magicians", I kept thinking of how much better Straub's treatment of similar themes was, so literally the minute I finished "The Magicians" I went to my bookshelf and picked out this book to re-read. With it's nods to everything from Grimm's Fairy Tales to Hans Christian Andersen to John Fowles' The Magus, this is both a literate homage to the art of storytelling and a gripping story in its own right. The tale of two boarding school best friends, one of whom is destined to be the greatest magician in the world, and the malevolent wizard who seeks to keep the mantle for himself, this is a mournful story filled with melancholy, violence and tragedy. The journey from innocence through temptation to self-awareness provides the backbone for these characters, and the layered narratives and "realities" are skillfully wrought. A perfectly crafted gem.

  • Leo .

    This book I read when I was a teenager. It is a fantastic book by a literary great.

    Finished reading it again recently while I was away. I enjoyed it again. Five stars.👍🐯

  • Rebecca McNutt

    It's been a long time since I've read anything by Peter Straub. I loved his earlier novel

    and its accompanying 1970's film adaptation starring Mia Farrow, but often I have trouble finding his books for sale, and I get distracted into buying something else. I'm glad I decided to buy a copy of

    . While it's definitely not a book for everyone and it can be a very strange piece of fiction, it's a really incredible story. Initially it was recommended to me by a friend because they compared it to anoth

    It's been a long time since I've read anything by Peter Straub. I loved his earlier novel

    and its accompanying 1970's film adaptation starring Mia Farrow, but often I have trouble finding his books for sale, and I get distracted into buying something else. I'm glad I decided to buy a copy of

    . While it's definitely not a book for everyone and it can be a very strange piece of fiction, it's a really incredible story. Initially it was recommended to me by a friend because they compared it to another book I read recently and loved,

    . While there are similarities between the two, Straub's

    is definitely more rooted in horror.

    works on a simple premise. Two friends from boarding school are taken on as apprentices by one of their uncles, retired stage magician Coleman Collins. While it might be expected that Collins would just know a bunch of silly card tricks and Houdini-type stuff, this old magician is actually very powerful... and very sinister, as well. Much of

    focuses less on this aspect and more on what our two main characters endure while at their boarding school environment. Straub does a great job at capturing the struggle for power and esteem that magic promises, especially for two boys in an environment where bullying is rampant. The romanticized allure of magic is also a really captivating subject, and the unfolding darker truth is presented in an unforgettable and engaging way here. I wasn't expecting the ending at all, and it was definitely one of the most memorable in any horror novel I've ever read.

  • Dirk Grobbelaar

    I really enjoy this kind of horror.

    has an

    , and the reader invests quite a bit in the story before things start going awry. This means that you actually

    about what happens next…

    There’s also a very “real world” feel to the events, however bizarre things eventually turn out. You almost,

    feel that this could actually happen. That being said, I wasn’t using the term bizarre loosely just now. This is one sinister story, and if the body count isn’t exactly apo

    I really enjoy this kind of horror.

    has an

    , and the reader invests quite a bit in the story before things start going awry. This means that you actually

    about what happens next…

    There’s also a very “real world” feel to the events, however bizarre things eventually turn out. You almost,

    feel that this could actually happen. That being said, I wasn’t using the term bizarre loosely just now. This is one sinister story, and if the body count isn’t exactly apocalyptic, the psychological toll this novel takes is quite extraordinary. Straub has a way of infusing even the mundane with a sense of sinister purpose. Every single sentence drips menace.

    Something of note is the structure of the novel, which is split into two very distinct sequences. The first half of the novel depicts events that play out at a certain school, where we are introduced to key members of the cast. The second half of the book deals with two of the pupils and their time at

    , which is, at first glance, the estate of an uncle of one of the boys. I can hardly say too much more, since that would be giving away some of the plot. Of course, the events depicted in the first half of the novel have a bearing on the events that are depicted in the second half of the novel, so there is some excellent

    .

    This is not a quick read, and at times I found the book a bit complicated, not to mention mind-numbingly weird. It's good stuff, though, even when it's taking its time.

    Being a Straub novel, when things start going wrong they go

    wrong. This is

    a gorefest, however. What it is, is

    , and

    with some

    thrown in for good measure. Excellent characterisation, some philosophical meanderings and lots of allegory and metaphor relating to religion and the occult add spice to what is already a good story.

    Despite the somewhat deceptive pacing it is an engaging and chilling read. If you like Straub’s novels or

    in general, you might want to check this out. Just stay away from any mind altering substances while reading it - the experience might ruin you.

  • Daniel Greene

    This book is.... severely weird. I have a lot of thoughts. Review coming soon.

  • Bandit

    Not sure what happened here, although I suspect it was the case of success bloat. Straub's first ventures into supernatural (If You Could See Me Now and Julia) were lean, mean thriller (thrilling)machines. Shadowland must be where he veered off into the prolixity of later years. I had such high expectations for this book based not only on how much I liked the Straub's aforementioned works, but also on the love I have for the subject. Magic, how can you go wrong with magic. It's innately fun. And

    Not sure what happened here, although I suspect it was the case of success bloat. Straub's first ventures into supernatural (If You Could See Me Now and Julia) were lean, mean thriller (thrilling)machines. Shadowland must be where he veered off into the prolixity of later years. I had such high expectations for this book based not only on how much I liked the Straub's aforementioned works, but also on the love I have for the subject. Magic, how can you go wrong with magic. It's innately fun. And yet...Shadowland has the genre stereotypical coming of age trip back in time structure, although it is framed in a present day (for the day) narrative, which might have been unnecessary and at the very least proves quite distracting on several occasions throughout the book. It's sort of an epic story in sheer ambition and size, it has a lot going on, too much going on really, and Straub seems willing and eager to explore every tangential plot line that comes up, as if paid by word. As a result, it often feels like reading a somewhat disjointed and overwhelming sum of lovely individual parts. Not to imply it doesn't have a cohesive coherent plot, it does. It has to do with two teenage boys who spend a very...interesting summer at a palatial, literally magical estate of an uncle, who just happens to be looking for an apprentice. There are plenty of fantasy elements, there are plenty of horror elements. It is undeniably well written. It should have wowed. And yet...Shadowland is mostly good, occasionally very good, but more often than not if felt like a chore to read, not quite plodding, but something of a slog. It overwhelmed with its grandiosity. And yet, admittedly, this is very much an acquired taste and seems like the sort of thing that would be positively adored by the right reader.

  • Tony

    I really

    want to like this

    book but

    I just get sidetracked

    just kept getting distracted

    by the trippy dream sequences

    and random interjections

    and I'm pretty sure

    that in the end nothing

    really

    happened.

  • J.K. Grice

    I could only make it through half this book before I just had to quit. Another Straub novel that did not work for me.

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