CBR #31 – The Literary Equivalent of Rachel’s Trifle

Shadows Fall by Simon R. Green

It’s probably a bad sign when the blurb on the front of a book is the author saying, “I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.”  That’s like your mother patting your hair and saying, “Well, I think you’re handsome.”  It doesn’t help.  It never helps.

Shadows Fall was only available at the Burbank Public Library.  Los Angeles Public Library has some like 70 branches across this wide and wild district, including a massive main branch downtown that you seriously should visit for no reason other than to kind of gasp at realizing how many fucking books are there.  But the LAPL had no copies.  Burbank, all three branches, had exactly one.  I should have taken that as a sign.

Shadows Fall is a stand-alone, and clearly an early book by Green.  Shadows Fall is where old forgotten stories go to die.  Or to live until they decide to go through the Forever Door.  Ghosts exist there, and fairy tales, and forgotten pets.  In the greater universe of Greendom, Shadows Fall gets name dropped a ton. Father Time exists there and kind of watches over everyone, along with his little assistant Mad. Bruin Bear and The Sea Goat crop up a bunch of times in the various worlds — they showed up in the Drood books almost as much as Walker, and they’ve popped up a few times in the Nightside tales.

On Friends, Rachel once accidentally combined a meat dish with her trifle recipe when the pages got stuck together.  And Joey ate it to their disgust.  He said, “Meat good. Pudding good.  Good.”  That’s kind of what’s wrong with Shadows Fall.  It’s a mishmash of what seemed like a short story collection that kind of got smushed together into a long novel.  There’s so much and too much going on, and a lot of that metaphorical stuff that Terry Pratchett does really well and Simon Green doesn’t.  One of the major elements is that the Warriors of the Cross, a fanatical military group, swoops into Shadows Fall to destroy the “demons and deviltry.”  If they were actually devout Christians, this would have been way more interesting.  Instead, they’re just mercs who rape and torment and bully until the collective Shadows Fall denizens rise up and whoop their asses.

But then there’s a whole extra part that must be resolved where The Wild Childe comes through and… you know what?  I don’t want to get into it.  It’s just a big weird unsatisfying turducken of a plot that involves the Fae Folk, and Father Time, and Excalibur — only Excalibur never actually comes into play more than a sword that Mad wields for a brief time.  Like I said, it sort of feels Martian Chronicles in that these feel like Tales of the Shadows Fall that got woven into a full novel.

As a completionist, I’m glad I read it. But it’s not necessary. You don’t get any sort of in depth explanation of more characters.  It just names a few things that will appear in the last few Nightside books.  Checked off the list.  Next book.  NEXT.


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