Title: The Evolution of Shadows*
Author: Jason Quinn Malott
Publisher: Unbridled Books
First sentence: Lian hears the wind in the trees outside and the creak of the house as its timbers contract in the cool night.
My synopsis: This novel is about the coming together of 3 unrelated people to search for Gray Banick, a news photographer who disappeared 5 years earlier in the Bosnian war zone. Lian was his girlfriend - and also the reason he went to Bosnia; Emil was the interpreter he met while on assignment, and Jack was a fellow news photographer who was Gray's mentor.
These three people come together to try to search for Gray, or Gray's remains, as a way to put an end to that chapter in their lives. Emil is still trying to find Mira, his fiancee who was taken away by enemy soldiers - in his head he knows she is dead, but in his heart, he refuses to give up hope. Katja, his current girlfriend, isn't sure that he will ever be able to let Mira go.
Jack has given his whole life to surviving in war zones. Where his homecomings with his wife used to be exciting - they have become alienated over the years and she now feels as if he has deserted her. Most of the big events in their life he has learned of over the phone, half a world away. Jack realizes that Gray is a surrogate son to him, to replace the one that his wife had miscarried 30+ years before.
That leaves Lian. She was always sure that her and Gray would not be together, but not because she didn't love him - even though she couldn't put it into words. Her family was bound by Chinese values and traditions, and those were put on her shoulders to carry forward. For this reason, she found herself engaged and married to Daniel, a Chinese doctor who works with her father. She realizes that she has been a coward her whole life, and hopes that by coming to Bosnia she will be able to come clean with Daniel about her past, and move forward in her life, on her terms.
That is, at least, how I viewed these three people. I cannot say that I "enjoyed" this book - as the setting isn't something that someone would "enjoy". But I found that I could not put it down! The story was told between present interactions amongst Emil, Lian and Jack and flash backs on their relationships with Gray. While there isn't a lot of action, it moves forward steadily, hauntingly, through war-torn Sarajevo and the surrounding countryside. While the setting of the story is tragic, there is an underlying romantic element of never losing hope. I highly - highly! recommend this book. It is a great debut novel and I can't wait to see what else Mr. Malott has to bring us.
For some reason, this passage has stayed with me:
"I will take pictures of the truth. They will be ashamed of themselves."Read my interview with Jason or visit him at the following sites: Myspace, Facebook, and on his web page!The Evolution of Shadows
The man nodded. "But not until after my family is dead."
"I come from a sleeping people," Gray said.
"You are awake," the man said. "I must get back to my family." (p210)
Publisher/Publication Date: Unbridled Books, Oct 20, 2009
*This book was provided for review from Unbridled Books.