I was sent a novel that circled around bloodstained reminiscences of a war gone by – remnants of what it left behind both emotionally and mentally, and disturbed ex-militia up to no good – not my cup of tea, really. I love stories with a dose of gore, don’t get me wrong. The savage, fervent tendencies of men and women who survive on the barbaric (fictionally), have been a vicarious fetish for as long as I can remember. Gerard Cappa’s book entitled Blood from a Shadow is aggressive, bloody, and emotionally chaotic. It has its share of gore, (amateur though) and it’s not the kind that will keep you up all night.
The leading man of the novel, Cornelius Mcknazpy (Con, for short) is an ex-militant of Irish-American descent from the 69th Regiment of the Irish Brigade. The opening chapter was lacklustre and snail-paced, giving no clear-cut outline of the main character. The protagonist seems brusque, violent, easily annoyed, and ready to rip out the jugular vein of any provoker. The chapter ends with a mission thrust into Con’s hands that sends him backpedalling into a past that he wishes he didn’t have to revisit. He knows little about the drama, murder, uncertainty and controversy that await him on foreign shores.
While the plot thickens taking on a new and unforeseen route, the core idea of the book and the weaving in of the author’s fictionalized creativity tips the scale slightly in his favour. The author has used a lot of nonfictional references connected to Ireland’s heritage while merging the storyline with the political climate that pervades our current real world scenario. There’s a cornucopia of characters from Iran, Turkey, Ireland, the United States, and Israel that play a part in the novel – a melting pot of questionable men and women.
There are hidden surprises as well as select dialogues that are inarguably well-written. I did come across a lot of dry patches in the storyline, but it resumes its swift tempo tactfully. While the book heavily revolves around an imminent act of terrorism that may or may not occur, most of the characters weren’t given attention likewise. My personal favourite from the group was Didar, a Turkish prostitute. You’ll feel just as empathetic as I did when you stumble upon the chapters that speak of her unfortunate circumstances. Her raw sexiness and mesmeric accent is cleverly brought to life through mere text – you can almost smell her cheap perfume.
Certain parts in the book got me wincing in utter annoyance because Cornelius was ready to break every nose within view and repeatedly stir up violence instead of thinking about the many lives at stake. Innocent people are killed, the story turns ugly because of his brutish impatience and his family almost dies at the hands of a raging lunatic. I wasn’t very happy with how the author chose to explain only some of the characters in depth, leaving the rest entirely to the reader’s imagination. You’ll find such flaws within the confines of the novel which will force you to detach yourself from a character. Without connecting to what each one has to offer, the crux of the story loses its charm.
For those of you who love reading books where exaggerated details of war are splattered within the pages, then this one is your go-to thriller. There are many moments in the book that are praiseworthy but I prefer a novel that doesn’t come with displeasing irregularities. The attempt to write such a novel reveals great literary potential from the author. It would’ve been better if he’d toned down the extensive details related to a country’s history since not all of it will be graspable to many. Give the book a chance nonetheless.