Hullo! Welcome to another blog tour! Today I have a review of Love of Shadows by Zoe Brooks and a quick interview with the author. There’s also a tour-wide giveaway so don’t forget to check that out!
“I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos.”
But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?
Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer’s Shadow trilogy, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. It is a study in grief, love and defiance.
I didn’t realize at first that this was the second of a trilogy when I joined the blog tour. I decided to get book one, Girl in the Glass, on Kindle when it was on sale last Christmas season so I could read it first and I think that was a good decision on my part. I think anyone who read Love of Shadows first without having read the first book would have a lot of questions. I read the first book and I still had a lot of questions, mostly about what Shadows really were. Neither the first nor second book explained what Shadows were. From what I understand so far, a Shadow is like a twin, but one that isn’t a slave to human emotions. Some do not consider them human although they are flesh and blood. The story revolves around a young woman Judith and her Shadow Sarah and their relationship with each other. I’m not really into magical realism, but I could appreciate how the characters grew more as the story progressed and how the relationship between Judith and Sarah grew deeper. The characters were developed well and for me good characters can really make a book worth reading.
It’s a pretty interesting series. Very emotional and descriptive. The pace wasn’t fast but it wasn’t too slow either. It felt just like a good walk around a place full of history and secret stories. It’s not something I usually read, but it was a good read nonetheless.
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to give a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Author
Zoe Brooks is a British writer and poet, who spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry. She aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader’s skin.
Zoe was a successful published poet in her teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). Girl In The Glass – the first novel in a trilogy about the woman and healer Anya was published on Amazon in March 2012, followed by Mother of Wolves and Love of Shadows. In May 2012 she published her long poem for voices Fool’s Paradise as an ebook on Amazon.
Interview with Zoe Brooks
1. What was the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
When I was starting out writing novels I was very lucky that my best friend Hannah was also a professional story editor in the film industry. She was story editor on the Oscar-winning film The Counterfeiters and she also lectured on the subject. All the advice she gave me was excellent, but the best single bit of advice was to go through my first draft and look for what I didn’t show – the scenes I report rather than tell. These are nearly always the most important emotionally. I am British and have the usual British hangups about showing emotions and I’m afraid that spills over into my writing sometimes. Hannah, although she was made a British citizen, was Czech by birth and upbringing. So when Hannah read a draft of a book I abandoned a few years ago, she picked up on a minor female character. She’s interesting, said Hannah, why are you avoiding her? I went back to the book and started to work up the character. Soon I realised that I wanted to write a book about this woman, so I did. But still I wasn’t engaging with her enough, so I went back to the story again. That woman was Judith, the central character of this book Love of Shadows.
2. For you, what’s the best or most successful book-to-movie project so far?
It seems to me that some of the best stories for movies aren’t full-length novels but short stories or novellas. Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption converted into one of the greatest films of all time with very few changes. Another novella which was turned into a great film is The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier. Although Hitchcock made more changes to it, the essence is still there. Many books are just too complicated to be transferred easily to film
3. What book do you think should be made into a movie?
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I really enjoyed reading the book as part of my magic realism challenge (I aim to read fifty magic realism books in a year). When I read the book I had a strong vision of how the story looked. The Alaskan setting would be spectacular on film and the storyline is simple enough to be summarised in a film. I also love that the central characters are a mature couple and still in love.
4. What movie would make a great book?
Gosford Park would make a great murder mystery book. Julian Fellowes is a genius. The film has a multitude of fascinating characters. It would be great fun to write from the different points of view of the various characters – both upstairs and downstairs.
5. What’s the one writing advice you have for aspiring writers?
Finish and then rewrite. It is very easy for a newbie to become disillusioned with a project and abandon it. I always have a crisis of doubt about page fifty, at which it is all too easy to give up, but I have to remind myself that this is only the first draft and that the crucial thing is to finish the book. You can’t rewrite it otherwise.
Big thanks to Zoe for answering these questions! Seems I always ask these book-to-movie and movie-to-book questions. I guess it’s because I’m always seeing books as movies in my head and sometimes I like fantasizing about being the one who write that book every time I watch an awesome movie. ;)
Zoe will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.
Read an excerpt
“Peter,” I say. “I don’t think I’ve changed that dressing for a while.”
The rumble is growing to thunder and there are voices.
I pick up a clean dressing and a pot of ointment from the shelves and walk across the room.
As I bend over the bed, I try not to think of the light of flames moving along the house walls of the square. I try not to see the look of hatred on the faces of the torchbearers. I try not to listen. I try to focus only on Peter and my hand as it peels back the dressing. I try not to listen to the clamour.
Under my breath I say a prayer: “Angels who are blessed, take this darkness from me.”
And the darkness does clear, for a while. The wound is healing, so I apply some ointment to keep it clean and pick up the new dressing.
They are overhead now. There is no escaping the words, the room almost shakes with them: “Burn the witch! Death to the witch!”
My legs fail me and I slip to my knees. I am in the darkest of my nightmares, darkness shot through with flames. “Sarah, they are coming.”