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Shadowmagic by John Lenahan

When Scott offered giveaway copies of Shadowmagic by John Lenahan I was quick to comment as I thought this older children’s fantasy could be really fun; and that my daughter might enjoy it. I was particularly thrilled when a signed copy arrived – Thank you Scott & John.

Lenahan is an American magician living in England. He got thrown out of the Magic Circle for revealing a trick, and has provided the voice of the toaster on Red Dwarf, which are rather cool achievements! He’s also funny – see the clips on Scott’s link above.

This fast-paced novel combines classic plot elements of the magical quest and fish out of water. Teenager Conor finds himself transported from his normal life into a magical world where he is a Prince and nearly everyone wants to kill him. This land is peopled by all the types of faery folk you can imagine, each with its own territory. Magic is controlled by gold – and he who owns all the gold will control all the magic – such is the plan of Conor’s evil uncle who would destroy the Land. So we add the race against time and speed through the land to find the way to stop him.

Based upon Celtic and Irish myths of Tir Na Nog, the Land of Youth, for an adult read, there was nowhere near enough background as we sped our way through the magical land. Conor and his companions meet a wide range of faery folk and again it is difficult to get a feel for their characteristics, as character is sacrificed for the speed of the plot, and our hero seems rather good at getting out of all the situations easily. I’d have liked to know a bit more about the roots of the magic with gold, and it’s opposite Shadowmagic. Conor’s jokey contemporary humour which always falls flat in the magical world is meant to keep us and him grounded with an attachment back to the real world, but rather irritated me.

However it wasn’t written for adults! I imagine that ten+ year old boys will get a lot out of this fast-moving tale; in particular they’ll identify with Conor, and thus have great fun with it – and I know one who should love it.

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