The Shadow Glass – Josh Winning

“Although it’s now 25 years old, this film remains resolutely one of a kind.

The Shadow Glass is a (fictional) fantasy movie from the 1980s – think The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, or Neverending Story – created by Bob Corman (I had to look that up, but no, he’s fictional too!). Bob’s obsession with his movie, the land of Iri (‘eerie’), and the characters that populate it, saw him branded as a bit of a nut, especially after the movie failed at the box office. His young son, Jack, grows to hate the movie and the world that once fascinated him, even as the film grows in cult status.

Almost 30 years later, Jack arrives back home to deal with his father’s death. The house seems a shrine to the film’s memorabilia, especially the attic still full of puppets. As a thunderstorm breaks above the house, it even seems like they start to move – I mean, it has to be an illusion, right? Jack isn’t losing his mind – or talking to puppets…

Author Josh Winning has spent decades writing about movies, and his love for the medium shines through brightly in the pages of The Shadow Glass. Showing my age, but yes, I have a lot of fondness for those cult 80s classics, and the inspirations are clear here. Mind you, I haven’t seen mention yet of the one that I was most reminded of, in many ways, which oddly enough was Masters of the Universe. It’s something about characters finding themselves in the ‘real world’, on a mission, somewhat oblivious to the spectacle they present. It’s perhaps a little disappointing that the whole thing takes place in ‘our’ world, keeping Iri always feeling like it’s at a distance – or through a glass, sure.

As a bit of an anti-hero, Jack is joined on his new quest by a bunch of Shadow Glass fans, which is all the more appropriate when one antagonist is a toxic super-fan. There’s something joyful about watching the former group see their beloved characters come to life, even as Jack continues to struggle with it all. His character arc through the whole story is a joy, too, even as the book breaks from its PG inspiration and gives us trauma, death, and real consequences.

I particularly enjoyed the between-chapter excerpts from books, magazines, and such, discussing the fictional work. They were very well done, lending a real sense of veritas. Slightly alas, I didn’t quite envisage the whole world of Iri as much as I would have liked – perhaps I am just too old and jaded, not the wide-eyed child who loved those movies so much back in the day. But this book is still for everyone who did, and everyone who’d like to recapture a little of those feelings.

Shadow Glass coverNetGalley eARC: 368 pages / 26 chapters
First published: 22nd March 2022
Series: none 
Read from 3rd-6th March 2022

My rating: 8/10

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