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Not quite what I expected

By Janoda, member

May 13, 2009: I have to admit I have slightly mixed feelings about The Shadows of Sicily. I thought it was some kind of historical fiction, and as an archaeology student that immediately got my interest. However, in Chapter 4 I finally got what the Shadows really were, and though I liked the fact I was surprised, I’m not quite sure I like where the story is going, just because it isn’t quite my genre.

Anyway, plot and character-wise the story so far is interesting and surprising at times. The information and story is unfolding slowly, and so far there has been no unneeded information. You wonder what happened to Demetrius, how exactly he turned into a Shadow, what the Shadows are, how he’ll interact with Antonius and the others . . . Unfortunately the story itself isn’t very far yet. So far only 2 of the main characters have been introduced, and there has been a blink of the third.

The writing is solid, however I found a couple ommissions and spelling mistakes (not too many though), that should have been edited out. I’m also missing a good navigation menu in the side-bar, because I like to reread certain parts when some details have slipped my mind. A slightly higher contrast between the font and background wouldn’t hurt either.

As a final remark I have to say that I didn’t feel Rome in it. The setting is The Roman Empire, and even though the author uses Roman names and terms, the setting doesn’t quite live. Maybe this is a general problem of genre-crossing fiction, or maybe we just aren’t far enough story-wise, but the same plot could have been told in the 14th, 18th or 23d century. Maybe I am biased because I’m an archaeologist (and writing my thesis on the image of the past in popular fiction), but if one thing could use some general improvement, I’d vote for the setting.

In conclusion The Shadows of Sicily is very promising, with a genre-crossing plot that could be very interesting. However, if you’re a pure historical fiction fan this story probably isn’t quite historical enough for you.

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