Jack Corman is failing at life. Jobless, jaded and facing the threat of eviction, he’s also reeling from the death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, but the film flopped on release and Bob was never the same again.
In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying childhood home, where he is confronted with the impossible — the puppet heroes from The Shadow Glass are alive, and they need his help. Tipped into a desperate quest to save the world from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with an excitable fanboy and a spiky studio exec to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy and ignite a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do Bob proud.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Nerds unite! The Shadow Glass just seemed to slot into a place in me, a place filled with nostalgia & with my love for all things epic. If you like old style fantasies, where the line between good and bad is never blurry, and filled with characters that worm their way into your hearts then look no further.
Jack Corman used to love The Shadow Glass when he was a child, but age, as well as the growing resentment for his father, means Jack has tried his best to push everything Iri and Shadow Glass related from his mind. But then his father died, and Jack returns to his childhood house where he finds something that should be impossible, the puppets from The Shadow Glass seemingly come to life and battling in his fathers attic. Jack quickly comes to realise that Iri is alive, but that is is dying and the heroes that he grew up admiring need his help if they are to save Iri from the evil that resides there. Teeming up with an unlikely group of suspects from his cousin to an excitable group of Shadow Glass fans, Jack is taken on a wild adventure through his fathers past, and the more he learns, the more he realises that his issues with his father were small in comparison to what could happen if he doesn’t live up to his legacy and save Iri once and for all.
Jack was such a brilliant perspective to read this story from. When the puppets initially appear, he thinks he’s having some sort of meltdown, but when he realises that they actually exist he finds himself torn between amazement and anger. Amazement that these characters he grew up admiring are actually real, and anger at his father for never telling him. His offer to help comes mainly from wanting to get rid of them as quickly as possible, but the more time he spends with Zavanna and Brol, the two Iridians who need his help, the more he finds his love and wonder for the world returning, until he is willing to risk everything to ensure they get home safely. The more we learn about his childhood, the more we understand his feelings of resentment towards his father, and similarly, the more Jack learns about his father, the more those feelings start to fade.
Winning also graces us with a side cast filled with lovable, quirky and sometimes a little scary side characters. Zavanna and Brol, the Iridians who need help to save their world were hilarious in parts, thanks to their complete lack of knowledge when it comes to our customs and sayings, but they also instil a kind of loyalty in you, making you desperate for them to achieve their goal. Alongside these we have the guild of Shadow Glass fans that Jack gets help from, my favourite and the biggest help being Toby. We meet Toby fairly early into the book, and we slowly get to see his love and awe of the film and whats happening start to wear off on Jack. Toby reminds Jack of himself as a child, and his constant enthusiasm and willingness to help is the balance between Jacks curtness and unwillingness to get dragged back into the world of Iri.
This is the second book I’ve read recently where it’s surmised that a writer/reader can put that much passion and feeling into their works that they come to life, and I am here for it. As a reader is just creates this special feeling that you could connect that much with something that you almost create it out of thin air. Any fans of 80’s style films, think Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, even The Muppets are sure to get huge kicks when reading this book, there are so many nods to them throughout the book, but Winning takes little bits from them all and just creates something truly magical and his own. Winning also starts each chapter with a little snippet from ‘The Shadow Glass world’ be it parts of the script, interviews with Bob Corman, the creator, or pieces from tie in stories to the original film, and as well as being fun in parts, these also add an extra depth, to the world building & to the story and help us to understand ho Iri has become what it is today.
The Shadow Glass is fast paced, incredibly funny in parts, but Winning also made sure it felt incredibly real. It would be easy to make this a story with no real stakes, one where everyone makes it out ok in the end, but that wouldn’t be true, it would make the story feel lesser. He shows this not just through the adventure that Jack is on, but also through the reality of his father. As fans we do tend to put authors etc on pedestals, idolising them in ways that isn’t really helpful, and Winning does a terrific job of showing this through the interactions between Toby and Jack. One a fan who was in awe of a man who he never met, and Jack who felt let down by a father he felt drift away from him year by year.
There was nothing about this book I didn’t love. It absolutely made my nerd heart rejoice whilst reading and I adored that, though incredibly fun and adventurous, it also deals with a multitude of heavy topics which made the book feel more grounded and the story feel more real. I laughed, I cried and I whooped with joy, desperate for the Iridians to get their happy ending and for Jack to fall back in love with the world of The Shadow Glass. With this book Winning has made himself an insta pick author for me and I can’t wait to see what else he brings us.