Publisher: Herbs House
Publication Date: 18th October 2014
REVIEWED BY NEV
The Shadow Fabric is Mark Cassell’s first novel. This book is published by Herbs House.
This book pops a couple of Confessions cherries tonight. Firstly, it is Mark Cassell’s first time being reviewed on Confessions.
Today he becomes a man.
Also this is the first ever book that I bought at a con. I met Mark at Emcon in Nottingham and to be honest I had no intentions of buying any books at that stage, but he impressed me so much with his enthusiasm that I bought them all. And stole a few bookmarks. And sweets.
This is another one that sat on the pile for a while because it wasn’t a direct submission for review. I was struggling to decide which one to read next instead of following the normal strict list. When this one caught my eye, I thought I would give it a go.
This is what I thought.
Leo is confused. He has had a troubling life. The problem is he can’t remember any of it bar the last couple of years. He has just returned from a years traveling around the world and his guardian of sorts, Goodwin, has a job for him. He wants him to go work for his friend Victor as a chauffeur.
Leo soon discovers that chauffeuring will not be the only job he will be doing for Victor. On his second day he witnesses a murder. On his third day he witnesses much, much worse.
What follows, is a race against time. A race against evil. A race against unknown forces. A race against The Shadow Fabric.
This is a race that no one can afford to lose.
In terms of our characters we have a colourful and varied selection. Leo is obviously the main man in this story. He is mysterious and confused. He has no idea of his past and the only person who seems to know about it, Goodwin, isn’t giving anything away. Goodwin himself seems to be the quintessential English gentleman looking out for Leo. A sort of rich guardian who doesn’t need to be doing what he is but does it anyway.
Victor is seemingly a man of wealth as well. He doesn’t seem to want for much but it is clear from the outset that he is searching for something. This is what causes his problems. Stanley is Victor’s brother. The nasty side of the family. We don’t learn too much about him early on but he seems to be one to avoid. Polly is the last one of the group. Polly is blind. She has a helper who looks after her permanently but again seems to stick to the side-lines.
This group, apart from Leo, have known each other for years. They have secrets they are keeping from Leo. They also have secrets they are keeping from each other.
As far as characters go, these ones are all great. You don’t get a lot of back story with them which I love. Especially Leo, because he hasn’t even got a clue about himself. The character’s individual stories all become clearer as the story progresses, but again without overload.
In terms of the plot, this is one of my favourite styles of story. An ancient evil is making a comeback. Some people know a bit about it but not everything. They need to figure things out as they go. There are a lot of secrets and a lot of twists and turns that I, for one, didn’t see coming.
It isn’t a straight horror story. It is very much in the mystery / thriller vain with a lot of horror thrown in. Sort of like Dan Brown but good. And scary. Don’t be fooled by what I’m telling you though. This isn’t done in the Spielberg or Disney styles of those films you could watch on a Saturday afternoon with your two-year-old. This is dark, dark stuff. This is the stuff of nightmares. The sort of thing that a bit of me always wants to believe is happening somewhere in the world but we just never get to hear about it.
So what was the writing like? Well, one thing that struck me throughout this book is intelligence. It’s more literary in the sense that I reckon people who live and breathe extreme horror may not take to this one. It isn’t all blood and guts and gory gratuitous murder and mayhem. It’s extremely well thought out. It’s extremely well put together, to weave a wonderful story that genuinely mesmerised me in parts due to the beautiful descriptive narrative, that gives you a true impression of what particular scenes must look like.
Mark Cassell has a very creative imagination. That is clear from very early in this story. Although the plot theme is something that has been done many times before, I haven’t seen it done like this. I am trying to think of someone or a book to compare it with and I can’t. That must speak for itself.
I have a complaint though. For me, it lacked a bit on the horror side. The true scary bits. The bits that make you read with one eye closed or make you close it for a while because you don’t want to read what happens next. It’s the sort of story that you get the feeling from the beginning that the good guys are all going to ride off into the sunset, smoking big cigars and drinking tequila. They don’t by the way. Or do they? You have to read it to find out.
One thing is for sure. I will definitely be reading more of Mark Cassell. His writing is extremely good. The way his words flow should put many other authors to shame and to be honest, there are a few who should read this book to see exactly how intelligent writing is done. I think they will pick up some valuable tips.
To summarise: a mysterious and thrilling tale of modern day misfits chasing an ancient evil to save themselves, and mankind. A bit light on the horror for me but definitely worth a read to sample some very intelligent writing.
★★★★ practically perfect.
★★★.5 just needed more scares for me.
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Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone...including himself.
Now Leo must confront the truth about his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist.
THE SHADOW FABRIC is a story revealing the unknown history of witchcraft and the true cause of the Great Fire of London. A supernatural horror novel of sins, shadows, and the reanimated dead.
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in numerous anthologies and ezines including Rayne Hall's Ten Tales series and horror zine, Sirens Call.
His best-selling debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is closely followed by the popular short story collection, Sinister Stitches, and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos. His most recent release, Chaos Halo 1.0: Alpha Beta Gamma Kill, is in association with Future Chronicles Photography.