Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Time for Shadows: Book Review

I've read all of T.J. Banks' books. What can I say... I'm a fan. It all started with her time-travel novel, Souleiado (I was skeptical, because I don't usually read this sort of books), but I was also hooked. Then Houdini followed, and Catsong. A Time for Shadows, though, is Banks at her best. Here is a review I couldn't stop writing for Shadows.

As a preview--Shadows is a timeless story of war and peace, of despair and shredded dreams, and also of hope, love, and dreams come true. It takes an unusual look at the war, in general, while painting the devastation happening behind the front lines of the Greatest War of all--World War I.

I hope will inspire you as much as it inspired me.

Thanks for visiting,

A Time for Shadows
by T. J. Banks
Reviewed by Alina Oswald

“All is fair in love and war.” Moving beyond the meaning of this saying, the war itself is unfair, as are the loss of life, the suffering and devastation it leaves behind. While they give the war a timeless perspective, it is not too often that they are immortalized in related works of art for future generations. 

Instead, as an audience learning or witnessing the war as portrayed in various forms of art, we’ve learnt to expect smiling soldiers going off to fight terrifying battles and winning against all odds. What we, the audience, seldom get to watch or read about are the raw reality of war and, sometimes, the irreversible way it changes those who’ve witnessed war atrocities first hand. The war--any war--doesn’t only change the lives of soldiers, but also of those forced to live the horror of war while trying to give hope and mend the broken bodies and souls of soldiers returning from the battlefield. For these caregivers--family, friends or nurses and doctors--for them, the aftermath of war becomes a real battlefield.

All wars have their battlefields, more or less known. Today, as the last survivors of the greatest war of all are moving on beyond this life, it is vital to use art as a means of capturing a realistic image of World War I. It is this particular aspect of the Great War that T. J. Bank immortalizes so vividly in her latest novel, A Time for Shadows, through a timeless story of life and death, peace and war, and also hope, a story that is passed on from one generation to another, from Iris--a caregiver, a nurse who’s experienced war and love while mending the broken bodies and souls of soldiers returning from the battlefield--and Dawn--a young writer, and also Iris’ caregiver, with a battle taking place within herself.

In A Time for Shadows the author captures the entangled, complex story of war--and, by extension, of any individuals put in extreme, desperate situations--while painting with words. And while doing so, with each word, with each stroke, giving a new nuance to the despair, the love, and also the inner strength that come to life in each one of the characters, thus making us, the readers, a part of their stories of survival.

Indeed, A Time for Shadows is firstly a multi-layered story of survival: the memories of war live on as they’re passed on from one generation to another, from Iris to Dawn, ultimately becoming timeless as Dawn, the writer, puts them down on paper; the love that survives the war and death itself, becoming timeless; also hope survives through the shadows, the ghosts, of loved ones who’re always around, always protecting, waiting on the other side of the fine line between Life and the Great Beyond. While helping Dawn find the much needed inner peace, hope also lives on through the writer’s work, thus continuing to use the story of Great War to give inner strength to future generations.

As audience, we identify with Iris, Dawn and the other characters in A Time for Shadows. Their stories make us more aware of our own guardian shadows, thus allowing us to relive cherished memories of those who, once, trusted us with their own stories of peace and war, of life and death,  with their stories of hope and inner strength.

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