Half-Sick of Shadows - David Logan

Half-Sick of Shadows - David  Logan

Two stars for Half-Sick of Shadows, because it was...well, bizarre is the word that springs to mind.

I bought it because a) the title just happens to be one of my favourite lines of poetry ever, and b) it said "Winner of the Terry Pratchett Prize" on the front. So that was basically sold on me before I'd even read the blurb. To be honest, the blurb could have said anything, I still would have bought it, because Terry Pratchett.

Edward and Sophia are twins who live with their mother, Bible-bashing, abusive father and two brothers in a possibly haunted house called the Manse. Sophia promises to her father, in an emotional moment, never to leave the Manse, and takes this too literally, remaining housebound while Edward goes to school and has a life. Mixed up in all of this is Alf, a mysterious stranger who appears and reappears in odd places.

To be honest, the SF angle felt very contrived, sort of bolted on to a more contemporary novel that in itself did not make much sense. The writing was undoubtedly good - childlike and hypnotic, with the occasional strange little sentence that throws you off your stride completely - but I couldn't help thinking, when I reached the end, "What, exactly, was the point?" It constantly felt like it was building towards something that never happened, or towards a game-changing explanation that never came. Half-Sick of Shadows just doesn't work as a novel. It needs to be at least half as long again, with either much more or a little less SF.