At just under 250 pages, The Shadow Man is a story that you can easily read in one sitting, which is something that ended up doing. Not just because it’s a reasonably short book, but also because it engrossed me in the story surrounding the Shadow Man and this small east of England village.
A dark ghostly presence that has haunted their tiny village for hundreds of years, burned its victims alive and stole children. The Shadow Man spooked Philippa (Flip) and her group of friends in their youth. Now grown up, a shared nightmare draws the group back home, searching for answers to the gaps in their childhood and answers to the centuries-old mystery.
The plot was pretty spooky and although I guessed some twists quite early on, Mark Brownless’s writing was skilled enough to leave me with an element of doubt surrounding the spooky goings-on, who or what the Shadow Man actually is and why the group have forgotten about such memorable events taking place in their formative years.
Furthermore, the interactions and banter between the group in both the present day and the past felt realistic. Each member was unique and well-developed, a mixed bag of believable personalities, each adding their own individual dynamics to the group and although I’m not a child of the 80s, the chapters set in 1985 evoked in me, memories of my youth growing up in a small town, going out on my bike with friends, roaming the countryside from dawn till dusk and investigating the local ghost stories (Mine was Madame Piggott).
In terms of downsides, the only part I found slightly unbelievable was the naked sunbathing. Even if it was the 80s and a rural setting, the idea that a group of 15-year-old girls would willingly do this on a regular occurrence seems a little far-fetched.
What if memories of your childhood are a lie? I woke with a deep feeling of fear. My dream had shattered the memories I had been carrying for years.– Mark Brownless, The Shadow Man
Finally, I definitely want to read more from Mark Brownless. Nostalgic, well-written and completely addictive and scary at times, The Shadow Man is a good read for anyone looking for a mystery thriller with a tinge of the supernatural.