- The Shadow Glass
Author: Josh Winning
Publisher: Titan Books
- ISBN: 9781789098617
- Published: March 2022
- Pages: 396
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 25/03/2022
- Language: English
If you are of a certain age, you will know that the 80s was by far the best decade for pop culture, the films, music, comics, books, all unbeatable. All the films and TV shows basking in that 80s nostalgia prove it so. But wait, what is that? A load of 90s-based films and TV shows are starting to be released. Perhaps it is the age of the creators when they were at their most impressionable that determines what gets made? We need more proof that 1980-89 rocked the most and Josh Winning’s The Shadow Glass may just be the book to do it.
Jack Corman has long lived in the shadow of his more famous father. Bob Corman was the creator and director of 80s cult classic The Shadow Glass which used puppets and dark fantasy to impress on many young minds. Bob is now dead, and he has left behind a house full of props and regret. Jack opens his father’s old house with a plan to sell the old merchandise and finally be rid of the film, but he is in for far more than he expects when he hears sounds in the attic. Jack should not have ignored all the times that Bob insisted that the land of Iri was real.
Nostalgia is a tricky tool to use in fiction as it can lead to laziness with a writer using the past as a crutch and not having their own ideas. The balance between the new and the old needs to be struck. Shadow is one of the best attempts at it that I have read. This is a book set decades later, but echoes back to the 80s with its central film that is reminiscent of Henson’s dark fantasies of the era. Rather than set the book in 1986, Winning has done the far more sensible thing and set much later. This allows him to use nostalgia, but also have the characters comment and rail against it as a concept itself.
The character of Jack is the heart of the story as he is part of The Shadow Glass legacy but does not wish to be. His cameo in the film as a toddler makes him a fan favourite, but we learn through the book that he had a fractured relationship with his father. A man apparently more interested in a film, than his own son. Jack must overcome his feelings for his father when the worlds of Iri and our own begin to bleed together.
What makes Shadow so fun is that it uses nostalgia intelligently. Unlike certain bestselling books, it does not use other IPs to fill in the void of having no ideas of its own. Instead, Winning explores the concept of nostalgia, whilst also providing it. The characters are fans of The Shadow Glass or worked on the film. How people treat an intellectual property is explored. Is it an asset to be exploited, or should it remain unchanged for all time?
Another area that Winning gets spot on in the book is the horrific nature of children’s films of the era. My Granny would put me in front of The Time Bandits on a regular basis and I blame that for my strange dreams at the time and my love of fantasy. The final aspect in which Winning sneaks in nostalgia is via the structure of the story itself. It has the pacing and beats of a classic 80s fantasy film. The hero’s quest becomes Jack’s. You can see this book being adapted into an intelligent film or mini-series that will hark back to the past but remain its own thing. In this modern world it is great that such beautifully written flights of fancy are still being created. I for one would be happy to read more tales of Jack, his Guild, and the characters of Iri.
Written on 25th March 2022 by Sam Tyler .