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Thursday, August 14, 2008

INDIE REVIEW: “Shadow of the Antlered Bird” by David Sklar

Read An Excerpt HERE

Reviewed by Liviu C. Suciu:

AUTHOR INFORMATION: David Sklar’s first novella, “Shadow of the Antlered Bird”, will be published by
Drollerie Press as an e-book in 2008 and as a chapbook in 2009. David’s published works include poetry in several publications, including Blue Light Red Light, Wormwood Review, and Paterson Literary Review; fiction slated for publication in Space & Time and two upcoming Drollerie Press anthologies; and satire in The Cynic, The Wittenburg Door, and The FarceHaven Tribune. He has also written for Galileo Games, The Gaming Report, and Knights of the Dinner Table.

INTRODUCTION: After checking out an excerpt
HERE, I decided to read and review “Shadow of the Antlered Bird” by David Sklar because I loved the writing style.

After a relatively confusing start, full of magical foreshadowing but making sense only in retrospect, the novel completely hooked me when the main action started on page twenty-one and I could not stop reading the story from then on.

SETTING:Shadow of the Antlered Bird” takes place mostly on the West Coast at an unnamed Seattle college and in California and the ocean, with interludes in New York City and elsewhere, but it also takes place in an interstitial meeting between two worlds: the natural world of long-lived elves, their magic and understanding of all things living, and our human “sorcerous” one, of manufactured products like factories, cars, and computers ruining the environment—at least that’s how elves see it.

FORMAT/INFO: The ARC PDF ebook of the short novel I have stands at 162 pages divided over five named chapters. The narration is mostly third-person present tense from the point of view of the two main characters, Tam and April who are casual college friends. One is a half-human elf that finds himself pursued by an inhuman, almost mindless enemy, while the other is a smart, sensible college sophomore who finds herself in the midst of very strange and threatening events and has to use her wits and compassion to try and resolve them. Tam's all powerful and “protective” mother that he tries desperately to escape from to see the world and live on his own, also makes an appearance at the beginning and end of the novel. “Shadow of the Antlered Bird” is self-contained with an ending that brings all the threads to a satisfying conclusion.

August 15, 2008 marks the eBook release of “Shadow of the Antlered Bird” via
Drollerie Press, while the print version will be published in TBA 2009.

PLOT HINTS AND ANALYSIS: At one level “Shadow of the Antlered Bird” is a young friends-on-the-run type of story. At another it is a coming-of-age story. But ultimately what made this book so enjoyable for me was the energetic, beautiful writing of David Sklar. Being so short, the context of the novel is mostly glimpsed through the actions and dialogue of the two friends, though the introductory twenty pages start making a lot more sense after you read the book which provides more hints about how this magical worlds of elves and other sentient beings coexisting with our present mundane world works.

As characters, Tam and April change quite a lot during their adventure, with Tam's mother, his shadow pursuer, providing the menace, while the other beings that they encounter in their flight—old Redwood Oaks, ocean Seals and finally the magical Hunt—deliver a sense of wonder that contrasts beautifully with regular places and things like gas stations, phones, cars, and highways.

Despite the tension there are some light humorous moments that allow the reader to catch his or her breath, and when you arrive at the end of the novel, you’ll want to immediately reread this wonderful book.

Highly, highly recommended.

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