Enthralled from the first page…
“[…] there is a kind of shadowland where the Other always lives. Or at least, never dies. Just goes on. Hard to stumble into happiness if you don’t leave your shadowland behind.
The above quote doesn’t exhaust the marvel that is Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor, but it gives a fair approximation of the dreamy and compelling style of this fascinating book.
This tale, however, goes well beyond an impeccable writing style. Being based on a true story is an added bonus, but what really gets you are the characters themselves.
They have a ghost-like quality about them that makes them unforgettable. Yet, they’re also defined so sharply, they emerge from London’s fog as though they were still living and breathing. It’s no effort to sink to their very core, even though you’re left wanting more of them. Of their genius and brilliance, too.
I love how the author describes Bram Stoker’s creative process. You see where his most famous character takes shape, and it’s just ironic how he outlives his creator. As an author myself, this book motivates me to keep going in my work, in the concrete hope that my efforts could one day receive the attention they lack at present.
The theatre is a big part of this book, almost another protagonist if you may. I love the descriptions about acting and how it affects real life. What the author tries to convey is Shakespeare’s concept that the world is simply a giant stage where we do our part until the curtains fall. And Mr. O’Connor has totally succeeded as far as I’m concerned.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration and for a treat, an incredible journey through the end of a golden age.