Wow, what a fantastic debut for Peng Sheperd with Book of M. This book was a grippy bloody post apocalyptic nightmare, that also at it’s heart is a love story full of magic. This book is a wonderful journey that Shepard masterfully takes the reader on, I questioned where this book was going and couldn’t imagine how it is going to end. The final twist is super powerful and took me a second to figure out, then was blown away with what the author chose and how mush I was wrecked inside. As the character’s move forward on their physical journey so do their ideas as they constantly evolve. This book reminded me of the best moments of Stephen King’s The Stand mixed with Joe Hill’s The Fireman, which is great company in my opinion.
The Plot: People all over the world are losing their shadows, and with that they start forgetting things, little things at first then big things. The forgetting leads to magical powers that can change reality. Know one knows how it happens or why some are selected and others are not but it sweeps the world like a plague, putting shadowed people against the shadowless. We meet the married couple Ory and Max, who after a friends wedding have been hiding out and surviving at a resort and are the only ones left. Max has just lost her shadow, they know she will soon start to forget and she starts caring around a small recording device . As Ory goes for food Max decides she can no longer be a burden and runs away joining a traveling group of shadowless like her. Ory is then determined to find her, and starts heading to there old apartment in DC, but Max is heading to a rumored sanctuary in Neo Orleans. Max originally set out to not be a burden, then she journeys for a hope for a cure, before she forgets the love of her husband Ory. This is the heart of the story the bounds that this couple will go for a chance. We meet two other figures Naz who is an archer from Tehran on a work visa to train for the Olympics in archery, and we meet a car crash victim who can’t remember his past at all and doesn’t regognize his name and refers to himself as the visitor and later as the one who gathers, he seems to be immune to the shadowless because he has no memories to take away. It’s a very cool story that is about love, paranoia, and memories.
What I liked: The scope of the Book of M how it starts so small and expands to the whole world. The love Ory and Max have is beautiful. The One Who Gathers is my favorite character so mysterious and did not except where his story was going. There a really good twist that we’re given hints of but when it happens I was blown away, I noticed some details that felt off but after reading the twist i put them all to together and was blown away. Actually all the little twists in story telling are written really well, and there are a few. The author makes the novel international with staying mainly in America, with a very international cast of characters. The history of the elephant pack and the elephant that paints was really interesting and made sense the the story.
What I disliked: After one twist we only get one perspective, we see how the others act though one persons eyes but I wanted to hear the thoughts of others. That’s it there’s a couple nit picky things, but for a debut author this is strong.
Recommendations: For people who love post apocalyptic stories, love stories with separated loves. If you want to read a great debut author, for a book that makes you think. This book made it to the semi finals in the goodreads choice awards for horror in 2018, but not to the finals. I don’t know if horror was the right category horrific events occur but the novel is almost more Science Fiction in nature. I rated this book a rare 5 out of 5 stars.