It’s always interesting to check out a local author’s work. As a writer myself, I know the trials and tribulations of publication; word of mouth becomes an essential tool for spreading the word about your book, so I try to jump on local works when they are available. A friend of mine suggested I check out TIDES OF SHADOW, which is written by fellow Northwest Arkansan Rob Gilchrist. While this book is not perfect, it is an entertaining hybrid of old myth and post-apocalyptic terror.
If you are not familiar with TIDES OF SHADOW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the author’s website:
Mankind lays scattered after the Greek gods return to earth, fighting a war that has been brewing for centuries. The oceans are poison, and the world is dying, but touched by the gods, Eric Stowe follows the directions of a voice in his head in search of a key to the future. Accompanied by a lone wolf and the saber on his hip, Eric moves along the east coast in search of the Dead City. He is not alone in his search, and the only currency in this wasteland is death and blood.
I feel the need to start this review by stating up front that I enjoyed this book, but it is a bit difficult to read in places. I will go into detail below, for the both the pros and cons, but overall I do think Gilchrist has a pretty solid piece of work here.
TIDES OF SHADOW has an excellent premise and I can definitely envision it on the big screen in movie form. The combination of mythological elements and a world set after a cataclysmic event create a unique atmosphere in which the story unfolds. I can honestly say that Gilchrist has broken new ground in this aspect. If there’s a similar book or premise out there, I have never heard of it.
The story moves quickly and the pacing is ideal. I particularly enjoy how Gilchrist is able to jump back and forth, from the past to the ‘present’ (which is technically in the future, but you get what I mean); some authors try this and fail, but Gilchrist pulls it off with ease. My sole complaint about the story is that sometimes, although there are new chapter numbers, it is difficult to ascertain in which time period he’s writing; I had to read a sentence or paragraph to discover. I might suggest chapter headings that indicate a timeframe for each.
Unfortunately, the grammar structure is where I have issues. TIDES OF SHADOW has some of the longest paragraphs I’ve ever seen in a book. This in itself is not necessarily bad, however long paragraphs can be daunting for readers and overload them with information. Paragraph breaks give readers’ brains a rest of sorts and allow them a quick breath before the story continues. For me, I don’t enjoy long paragraphs as they eventually tire me out; my eye needs to shift when it’s staring at a page and lengthy descriptions can make me feel like I’ve run a marathon.
Some of the sentence structures are clunky, however this does not overtly detract from the flow of the book. What does distract me, however, are editing errors; I found several and each one caused me to stop reading momentarily. A couple of missing words, misuses of a few (for example, ‘to’ instead of ‘too’), and some missing punctuation…again, this is not necessarily a reason to avoid this book, however I do feel it necessary to mention.
Overall, though, TIDES OF SHADOW is a fun read and the story itself is definitely a reason to buy the book. If you can look past the grammatical errors and the editing, you will find an enjoyable trek into originality. And be sure and keep an eye out for future works from Gilchrist; every author has to start somewhere, and I would assume this just his beginning. I expect we will see bigger and better things from him in the future.