Between the Shade and the Shadow, written by Coleman Alexander, takes us on a journey with a Shade and her Shadow. In this case, I think that the provided blurb does a better job of describing this book than I can.
In the deep heart of the forest, there are places where no light ever
shines, where darkness is folded by pale hands and jewel-bright eyes, where
the world is ruled by the wicked and kept by the wraiths. This is where the
Sprites of the Sihl live.
But Sprites are not born, they are made. On the path to Spritehood,
spritelings must first become shades. They do so by binding a shadow: a
woodland creature, who guides them through their training. Together, they
keep from the light and learn to enchant living things, to bind them, and
eventually, to kill them.
Ahraia is a shade who has bound a wolf for a shadow, as strong a
shadow as there has ever been. But while her wolf marks her for greatness,
Ahraia struggles with the violent ways of her people. Illicit as it is, she
would rather be running wild beneath the moons. But a test is coming, and
the further she and her shadow wander out of the darkness, the deeper they
wander into danger. Ahraia’s time is coming and what awaits her at the end
of her test will either make her or kill her . . .
This novel explores what it means to be a monster. How to make one. How to lose what makes you you. This isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, and more often then not writers take this to the extreme, or try to shout it from the top of the mountains. This novel was subtle in that you had to discover what the monsters were.
Well written, this novel is well paced, though fast by no means, and the author has brought characters to play who have depth and flaws.
Now, to the meat.
This novel deals with three beings who are the same creature: spritelings, the children, shades, the teenagers learning what it means to be an adult, and the sprites, those who have cast off their shadows and now can pave their own way.
The difference between them all? Their shadows. They bind a creature and that creature teaches them. Learns with them. Protects them. Becomes everything.
And the shade? They learn how to bind things. How to connect with things. Eventually, what it means to be a sprite after their three tests.
This is an adventure novel that I couldn’t put down once I started. If you want romance, don’t read this. If you don’t like fantasy… maybe give this a chance. You could enjoy it.
Otherwise, give it a shot.
BELOW IS A SHORT LITTLE INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR (that is weeks late in being posted.)
Coleman Alexander lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, exploration runs deep in his blood. Whether visiting the remote wilds of Alaska or the imaginary lands of his books, he is happiest with his head in the woods or the mountains. The farther off the beaten path the better.
His favorite author’s include J.R.R. Tolkien, Patrick Rothfuss, and J.K. Rowling, and his work is influenced by a great number of fantasy and science fiction movies and books. Music plays an integral part of his writing process, and he is always diving down the rabbit hole for new musicians.
Between the Shade and the Shadow is his debut novel, but is only the first piece of a much greater world he is creating, the world of The Realmless.
You have been writing for over 10 years, correct? What made you decide to publish this story now?
I’ve been writing for almost fifteen years actually, and with the risk of being too honest, I’m choosing to publish now because of hope, and because of despair.
Sometimes, in those early moments of the night when I’m almost asleep and my thoughts are slowly turning to dreams, I jolt awake. It’s not as though I’m actually waking up. No, it’s much more than that. It as though a piece of my conscience is arousing, and it’s saying, “What the hell are you doing with your life? Why are you wasting your life trying to be a writer? You’re fifteen years in and you still haven’t done it. Do you really think that will ever change?” I lie awake after that, not scared, but disturbed. And when I eventually fall asleep, I vow I’m not going to let that voice of despair win. But lately, its been getting louder.
Its been a long journey, and most of it I’ve done alone. I haven’t shared my writing—or even the fact that I write—with very many people. A few good friends and family. And yet, writing is at the center of my life. Almost all of my aspirations and goals are based on my writing. I’m at the point where I can’t keep doing it by myself, so now I figure why not share it with the world. If I get even one fan who looks forward to my stories I think that will be enough to drive me forward.
I’m publishing now because I’m hopeful that I’ll get to tell the story in full. I feel like now is the time to start the journey. I’ve spent a long time trying to get to the point of competence as a writer, and I’m finally okay with where I’m at. I hope that I never stop growing as a writer, but part of that growth will have to come through the journey of letting people read my writing. This book is my first. I hope I look back at it one day and say that I learned something from it. And so I’m letting this one go to see what happens.
Ahraia’s story is only the first, will your future stories explore similar themes or will each be different?
All of my stories exist in the same world—in Galadore, a land that is both expansive and diverse. I love it because I didn’t ever want to be confined when it comes to what I write. This world lets me explore whatever I want. Each story is different— entirely dependent on the characters and their particular conflicts. Some conflicts, like Ahraia’s, are deeply personal stories. Others are designed to be epics. But at the heart of each of the story is a beating heart that drives it, a theme/premise that I am willing to spend years thinking about. My central series, the series that started it all is a multi-volume epic meant to explore the themes I think most important to challenge: ignorance, racism, hatred, bigotry, and self-centric beliefs. And then I’ve got a middle-grade story that should be out in the winter time that is based around the ideas of tradition, family love, guilt, and giving. So each story is different. All in the same world. Many with overlapping characters, places and scenes. I hope when it’s all done I have a tapestry that represents me and gives people wonder, joy, adventure, mystery, thought, and love.
Was there any inspiration from real life for this story? Or for the story this one came from?
I think all of the stories I write must contain something deeply personal to me, otherwise, I can’t even begin to work on them. Fifteen years ago, when I started this I was a much different person than I am now. All I wanted was adventure and to be a hero, so naturally, the stories I wrote were as flat as the computer screen I’m writing this one. Eventually, I realized good stories are about much more than adventure, and so what I write now tends to be about whatever I’m struggling with myself.
Ahraia’s story was the perfect story for me to tell at that particular time in life. At the heart of it, it is about what society tries to do to the individual and in turn what that individual does in response. In my own case, I want to be a writer. And society has other plans. It wants me to get a 9-5. It wants me to take weeks off a year. It wants me to work hard until I’m ready to retire and die. I do all those things, but that doesn’t fit me, and so Ahraia’s story was the perfect way to explore the self-mutilation of self that society asks of us. I hope a few people walk away from it and think about what it means, and question perhaps the fallacy of groupthink. I hope someone out there chooses to forge their own path and doesn’t give up on their own dreams just because of what society wants of them.
Make sure to check Mr. Alexander and his book out at the below links! ( You know, the ones that are below the image here that gives you a little taste of what the world is like.)
NOTE: BOTH IMAGES WERE GIVEN TO ME BY THE AUTHOR and I have no copyrights to them