The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning

A thrilling race against the clock to save the world from fantasy creatures from a cult 80s film. Perfect for fans of Henson Company puppet classics such as LabyrinthDark Crystal and The Never-Ending Story.

Jack Corman is failing at life.
Jobless, jaded and on the “wrong” side of thirty, he’s facing the threat of eviction from his London flat while reeling from the sudden death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, a film Jack loved as a child, idolising its fox-like hero Dune.
But The Shadow Glass flopped on release, deemed too scary for kids and too weird for adults, and Bob became a laughing stock, losing himself to booze and self-pity. Now, the film represents everything Jack hated about his father, and he lives with the fear that he’ll end up a failure just like him.
In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying home, a place creaking with movie memorabilia and painful memories. Then, during a freak thunderstorm, the puppets in the attic start talking. Tipped into a desperate real-world quest to save London from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with excitable fanboy Toby and spiky studio executive Amelia to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy while conjuring the hero within––and igniting a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do his father proud. (Taken from Amazon)

If you ever danced with the Goblin King, if you cried when Artax died, if you were a little bit scared of skesis when you were young – then The Shadow Glass will have you pumping your fist and grinning like an idiot. This book was a love story to the wonderful, imaginative things I grew up with, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Jack is the son of Bob Corman, an eccentric who made a cult classic fantasy movie called The Shadow Glass. As an adult Jack has been estranged from his father, who wasn’t the most present of parents. He hates Bob’s movie, as in his mind it represents everything that is wrong in his relationship with his dad. When Bob dies, Jack decides to sell the memorabilia from the cult classic film but plans abruptly come crashing down as he learns that the fantasy puppets are no longer only puppets. Somehow, they’ve become flesh and blood heroes and villains in a war that has spilled from fantasy into reality.

Jack is a very real, relatable character. The justified anger and bitterness he feels toward his dad is juxtaposed by a sense of responsibility and a fondness for his dad’s movie that he has pushed down over the years. He both loves and resents his dad’s creation, much as he both loves and resents his dad. The characters he interacts with showcase different aspects of his character and allow for development and change. The no-longer-puppets Zavanna and Brol bring so much to the book (I loved Brol in particular), and the superfans are a blast.

There are subtle nods to 80s pop culture throughout The Shadow Glass, which is just awesome. Far from distracting from the story, these little details brought that amazing sense of nostalgia to the fore, putting a smile on my face. The sense of excitement I got from seeing the name “Toby” is hard to explain (if you know, you know). I would love to chat with the author, to see if I caught all the references.

From the characters to the storyline, every word was perfectly placed. The Shadow Glass was a delightful smorgasbord of nostalgia and fun, while at the same time exploring themes of loss, love, grief, and self-discovery. I know- I didn’t think it was possible to cram all of that into one book, but author Josh Winning did it beautifully. The balance between fantasy action and extremely well-written character development is perfect. The battles and madcap adventures are a brilliant backdrop for a profound look at how broken relationships can affect every part of a person. Parts of the book had me on the edge of my seat and I actually teared up at one point.

The Shadow Glass is sheer perfection. Read it.

*My review first ran in Grimdark Magazine.

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