Monday, February 19, 2018
Shadowman by Kristi Belcamino: Reading Room Review
I would have read this book in one sitting, but I made myself get a few hours sleep. When you read Shadowman, you will understand just how hard it was to put down this book even when I knew I had to. As it was, I didn't acquiesce to the needed sleep until 4 in the morning. There is just no good stopping point in Shadowman, as it grabbed me hard with its prologue and just kept on grabbing and grabbing. Kristi Belcamino creates female leads who blaze across the page as passionate in their loyalty to those they love as they are about justice for those wronged. Already established as an author of kick-ass characters with Gabriella Giovanni and Gia Santella, Belcamino now gives us Maggie Bychowski in the Sanctuary City Mysteries.
Maggie has moved to the hills of northern California to take a job as the lone female on the Sanctuary City Police Force. Her work place is an unfriendly atmosphere at best. At worst, well, that comes later. Maggie is willing to put up with the town nepotism, the behind-her-back name calling, the police cruiser that smells like vomit, and other general lack of respect to be close to her twelve-year-old daughter who must live in a care home nearby. The job is essential for Maggie to pay for the quality care her daughter receives, and so she tries to not stick out too much and blend into a routine of doing her job without making waves.
However, Maggie rather quickly gets on the wrong side of the dominant Earl family, whose positions include everything from police chief to D.A. to mayor. She sees Sgt. Earl doing something nobody was supposed to see. It becomes as much a matter of keeping her job as doing it, and then a matter of much more severe consequences. Maggie is not without allies on the police force, with a couple of law abiding as well as law enforcing co-workers who take her seriously. But, the well is poisoned in the town of Sanctuary City by the Earls and those who fall under their influence.
And, there is another poison infiltrating the community, an unseen source of evil and secrecy. A trio of twelve-year-old girls are in online communication with a dark fantasy figure called Shadowman, who works on the insecurities and fears of the young to corrupt them. Shadowman’s lure of leaving all their troubles behind to join him in living at his castle where life is all video games and freedom comes at the price of a barbarity of unimaginable horror. Not unlike the Earl’s family hold on many of the residents of Sancturary City, Shadowman threatens retaliation for non-compliance with his commands. When Shadowman’s urgings result in tragedy, will Maggie be able to uncover the truth as the wagons of Sanctuary City circle? Will Maggie be able to save herself in the process?
I can only add that Shadowman is a book readers don’t want to miss. It is sure to be on “must read” lists throughout 2018 and in contention for awards. Kristi Belcamino is an author with deep resources of the imagination, and she knows how to put pen to paper to bring them to life. The suspense of this novel is constant, an edge-of-your-seat experience that is as thrilling as it is frightening. And, the ride is only over when it’s over, and it’s not over.