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25 June 2010

Book Review: The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott

Title: The Evolution of Shadows
Author: Jason Quinn Malott
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: October 30, 2009
Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1932961843
Genre: Fiction


From the Publisher:

In July of 1995, the news photographer Gray Banick disappeared into the Bosnian war zone and doing so took away pieces of the hearts of three people who loved him: Emil Todorović, his interpreter and friend; Jack MacKenzie, his mentor who taught Gray to hold his camera steady between himself and the worst that war presents; and Lian Zhao, who didn’t have the strength to love him as he wanted her to. Now, almost five years later, they have gathered in Sarajevo to find out what happened to Gray, the man who had taught them all what love is.

Each driven character in this novel believes fully that there is a love strong enough to sustain them, even in the extreme circumstances of war. But each time they have uncovered a glimpse of such a thing, they have failed tragically love itself.

Or, to see it another way, this is a novel about how love fails us every time—or almost every time.

My Review:

The Evolution of Shadows
by Jason Quinn Malott takes the reader on an emotional ride as three of Gray Banick's friends, a veteran photojournalist, a translator, and an ex-lover return to Gray Banick's last known whereabouts in hopes of finding some evidence of what became of him. In 2000, Jack Mackenzie and Lian Zhao travel to war-torn Bosnia to meet up with Emil Todorović to search for their mutual friend, photojournalist Gray Banick who was last seen in July 1995 in the woods near Potocari, north of Srebrenica. As the three travel, the reader learns how each met Gray and about their respective relationships with him.
The Evolution of Shadows is told through various different voices, both past and present, clearly evoking vivid images and emotions that allow the reader to become close to each of the characters. Emil, Jack, and Lian are scarred in their own ways and have their own personal issues to face: Emil's family was murdered and his fiancée was taken; Jack a veteran war journalist has turned to alcohol to help ease his pains, both physical and emotional; and Lian, now married to Daniel, cannot forget her love for Gray and the emotions that haunt her to this day. The Evolution of Shadows is a brilliantly orchestrated debut novel that once begun, cannot be set down.
Malott's writing is close to brilliant as he describes both the past and present and the hope of the future. His description of the Bosnian War and the atrocities that occurred are clear, articulate and detailed in a manner that would suggest the author had been present, which to my knowledge he had not. Yet his writings took me back to years before the setting of his book, to a country of untold beauty and the stark reminder of what happened over a decade after I was there.
This novel is so well written and emotionally intense that one must remind oneself it is a work of fiction as The Evolution of Shadows reads a lot like a memoir. This hauntingly beautiful tribute to love, friendship and humanity will keep the reader engaged and mesmerised. Without reservation, I would recommend The Evolution of Shadows to any reader looking for an exceptional literary novel that will linger in memory long after the story has ended.

About the Author:

Jason Quinn Malott has been the publisher of the online literary journal The Project for a New Mythology. The Evolution of Shadows is his first novel.

For more information please visit the author's website.

I received a complimentary copy of The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott from Unbridled Books. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Tea said...

Great review, but you always give a lot in your reviews.

Six Feet Under Blog said...

Thanks for letting me know about this book.
Speaking of books, I am doing a virtual book tour right now with book giveaways!