Between Shadow & Soul


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A woman enters another world to find her missing brother and nephew in this brilliant novel about grief, time, identity, and monsters.

I love when an author writes a single sentence that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of their work, in its entirety. Here's one from Suzy Brightman's wonderfully uncategorizable and wildly rangy novel, Between Shadow & Soul: "The whole situation was bizarre, but grief was like that; it robbed you of normality."

Brightman's protagonist, Hannah Locke, is a Brit in her thirties, and she's in the midst of a serious crisis. She just lost her job as an insurance-claim investigator. Her husband, Gerry, left her to be with his ex in Spain. Her brother, Ryan, invites her to their family's holiday cottage in the seaside town of Morfa Nefyn in North Wales; when she arrives, Ryan's luggage is there, but he's nowhere. But the real problem is much more harrowing: Hannah is recovering from the trauma of an incident that happened a year ago, involving Ryan's four-year-old son, Jakey.

During a previous visit to the cottage, Jakey vanished while playing around an old Welsh farmhouse. No one's seen or heard from the boy since. The last thing Hannah ever said to Jakey was "Don't get lost out there, little man," a phrase that runs through her head, over and over--an intrusive thought motivated by guilt. When Hannah realizes Ryan's missing because he's followed Jakey into the unknown, Hannah knows she has to go there, too.

If you think you know where this book is going, given this premise, trust me: you have no idea. Hannah discovers that Ryan and Jakey have both entered a literal gateway into another world--a Lovecraftian nightmare dimension of terrifying intangible monsters and rituals around decaying monoliths and oppressed workers laboring in pits. But somehow, in this atmosphere of incredible despair, Hannah meets someone who will change her life and cause her to rethink her identity, for the good.

Between Shadow & Soul is one of those rare artworks that has it all: gorgeous writing, incredible characters, a bold plot, and insightful overarching themes--the impact of time, the ravages of loss, and the elation of self-discovery. Suzy Brightman has written a novel that's beyond genre categories in a beautiful way that's indicative of life itself; unfortunately, this is also the kind of narrative that's woefully unsupported by the mainstream publishing industry. Between Shadow & Soul is a family drama that's also a horror story, an adventure that's also a commentary on the nature of reality, a missing-person thriller that transforms into a lovely unexpected romance. It's also, honestly, one of the best books I've read this year.

Reviewed by

Michelle Hogmire is a West Virginian writer with an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She's the co-founder of the Appalachian social justice publication The Haint. Her work has been featured in BOMB, KGB Bar Lit Mag, and Columbia Journal. She's currently finishing her first book in Chicago.

About the author

I'm an independent author of over 15 titles who writes under a pen name to explore deeper topics using fiction. view profile

Published on March 15, 2020

Published by

80000 words

Genre: Horror

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