The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell
Herbs House (September 2014)
340 pages; $12.99 paperback; $1.99 e-book
Reviewed by Josh Black
Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric—a malevolent force that controls the darkness—takes the body and vanishes with it.
Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by his past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone… including himself.
Now Leo must confront the truth about his past before he can embrace his future. But the future may not exist.
That’s the back cover pitch for Mark Cassell’s debut novel The Shadow Fabric. Thankfully it doesn’t reveal much about the story, because this is the kind of book that gets going quickly and doesn’t let up until the final page. Blending elements of urban fantasy, horror, suspense, and mystery, it’s populated with a small cast of characters whose lives are entwined in an intriguing and unique mythos. The details of the mythos are laid out gradually, as Leo learns about the Fabric and his own past. As it turns out, people he’s come to trust implicitly aren’t quite what they seem, and it seems around every corner lurks a new revelation or danger. In this sense it reads like a good old-fashioned pulp adventure, complete with daring escapes, repressed memories, and a liberal dosage of mad science. With the exception of a few scenes, particularly in the last few chapters, the horror here is of the quiet and understated variety.
The prose is unobtrusive for the most part, letting the plot speak for itself, and aside from a couple of events which are a little too convenient, it’s tightly plotted all the way through. The characters embroiled in all this darkness and insanity could have more depth, but given all that’s going on it’s not as much of an issue as it might have been. What The Shadow Fabric has in spades is fun, and if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy it. If you finish it and want more, the world of the Shadow Fabric is further explored in the story collection Sinister Stitches.