By John Lenahan
2 out of 5
Shadowmagic is a rip roaring fun fantasy adventure novel by John Lenahan very loosely based on Irish mythology where every chapter ends on the edge of a cliff (or at least a high curb.) Join Conor as he grapples with typical teenage problems like, how to deal with a father's high expectations, how to survive in the world on your own and how to woo a beautiful girl - that wants you dead. Shadowmagic a podcast novel for young adults from 12 to 112.
Conor is used to just ignoring the weirdness of his life and getting on with school, friends, and his girlfriend Sally. So what does it matter if his father is the crazy one-handed professor, who likes to speak in archaic languages? And surely every boy wants to be taught how to fight with swords as he grows up.
Then Conor's life gets even weirder, as two riders burst into his living room, horses and all; and Conor finds himself dragged into The Land - Tir Na Nog. He finds the mother he long thought dead, learns a terrible prophecy that will turn many against him, and teams up with banshees, imps and more.
The story keeps up a fast pace, as we follow Conor and his new friends.
It is well written and it is obvious that Lenahan has researched Tir Na Nog and Irish mythology, and he's given an interesting take on it.
I think I am in the minority in not enjoying this. The main reason was Conor: he is ridiculously annoying, and because the story is told from his perspective in 1st person there is no escape from his constant opinions and lame jokes. I was irritated (or insert stronger alternative here) by his reactions to things, and by his comments.
When his mother first pops up: "Who's the babe in the skins?" - I'm sorry, but the first thing I thought when I read that was "prick".
And after his father is shot with a crossbow, he follows his mother's order to escape, which makes sense. But then I was struck with the lack of concern the boy had over whether his parents were still alive. He's too busy forming a bromance with Fergal; and going to a party at Castle Muhn.
Thank goodness Gerard was there to remind him to focus on refinding his family.
The number of times Conor and/or Fergal started laughing at the most inappropriate or dangerous times was just... I was surprised that I finished the book.
And the stupidity wasn't reserved for Conor, it obviously runs in the family. *spoiler* It turns out that his father, Prince Oisin, cut off his own hand. To win a competition. Even though the result meant that his brother automatically became heir. Seriously, of all the stupid things to do! Even if we ignore the tradition of Irish kings having to be unmarked and unblemished to be suitable for the throne; Lenahan places a lot of weight on a prophecy about a one-handed prince, and Oisin just goes and signs himself up for the role.
I'll not be in a hurry to finish the series.