Friday, April 8, 2011
Out of the Shadows
by Joanne Rendell
Published by New American Library
Out of the Shadows, (written by English author Joanne Rendell and published by New American Library), opens with a window into the past: a nineteenth century doctor describes the effects of electricity on a cadaver to the wide-eyed Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame. From here the story weaves through one century to the next, giving a dramatized account of Shelley's life and romance with Percy Shelley in bite-sized flash backs, balanced out with the main drama revolving around protagonist Clara Fitzgerald.
Clara is a scholar who has put her life on hold for her fiance Anthony, a scientist whose moral grasp is slipping before the allure of big pharma. Matters of the heart consume her as she struggles to determine if she is a descendant of Mary Shelley and to recover Shelley's missing papers. Anthony becomes distant and secretive, alienating Clara. With her sister, and Kay, an older woman who shares her love for the nineteenth century writer, Clara questions what her life has become. She is thrown into further distress by her attraction to Daniel, a kind friend who helps look after the ailing Kay.
This work of fiction is well-written and balanced between elements of history, character, plot, and mystery, best described as intelligent fiction geared for the female demographic; the flashbacks into Shelley's past prove interesting, though this reviewer wonders if Percy and Mary's epic love was not in fact, a more one-sided affair given Percy was married to someone else. Clara's relationship with Anthony proves more multi-faceted and realistic than the over-dramatic gestures of the emo-Shelley whose main problems appear to be living off of other people's money and that too many women love him.
More compelling parts of the narrative involve Anthony's downward spiral into questionable practices, and the parallels to Frankenstein are clearly presented, allowing Out of the Shadows to examine the pitfalls of mankind's never ending quest for eternal life and the consequences that come with our refusal to accept these natural cycles of life and death.
Buy it here.
Reviewed by Martin Rose.
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Look for Martin Rose's work in the anthologies Fear of the Dark from Horror Bound publications and Art From Art from Modernist Press. More details are available here.