Review: Things Half In Shadow
Adding supernatural elements to Historical Fiction is one of my favorite things. I’m already a lover of history, and I can’t get enough supernatural stuff. For me, it’s a match made in heaven. From Jasper Kent to Sarah Pinborough to Robert McCammon… I love it. Alan Finn’s novel, THINGS HALF IN SHADOW (Amazon), scratches that itch nicely.
THINGS HALF IN SHADOW follows Edward Clark, a young crime reporter in 1869 Philadelphia, who is asked to investigate and debunk the city’s many psychic mediums. It all starts simple enough, with the investigation of a young medium by the name of Lucy Collins. Throughout the tale we learn of Edward’s dark past and get wrapped up in a story filled with adventure, intrigue, and the supernatural.
As far as the plot goes that’s as much as I want to say. THINGS HALF IN SHADOW is very much about the journey, the incremental revelations about the main characters, and the mystery they are investigating. The story mainly follows Edward and Lucy, both of whom are instantly likeable. Perhaps the greatest strength of the novel is Finn’s recognition that playing with history doesn’t amount to much without strong characters. The reluctant rapport built between the two PoVs is perfectly pitched and paced as the novel progresses. The characters act exactly as you would expect, even though it doesn’t always personally benefit them. How many characters in countless novels have we seen do things out of character just because it’s easier on the plot? I applaud Finn for staying true for 100% of the novel.
Let’s talk about history: this is Historical Fiction, after all. While I appreciate the research that the author must have done to make the time period, language, and customs feel real, I am also relieved that I didn’t feel as though I’d read a textbook after finishing the novel. There is nothing I hate more than feeling like I’m back in college listing to a history professor lecture. Kudos to Finn for getting the balance right.
What’s more, the writing in THINGS HALF IN SHADOWS is extremely smooth. The history never bogged it down. The properness of characters never slowed the pacing. In fact, as far as Historical Fiction goes, THINGS HALF IN SHADOW is one of the smoothest reads I’ve had. It made letting myself get carried away by the story exceptionally easy.
THINGS HALF IN SHADOW is a fantastic read. Fans of Robert McCammon‘s Matthew Corbett series will feel very much at home with Alan Finn’s novel. While the novel gives a very strong sense of closure, it also opens doors for a series I hope to read for many years to come.
- Recommended Age: 15+
- Language: Very little, and very brief
- Violence: Nothing grisly, but some nicely creepy scenes
- Sex: Nope. Some talk, but no details.