Title: The Shadow Arts
Author: Damien Love
Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: Bloomsbury/Rock the Boat
Published: 2nd July 2021
Synopsis: “The thrilling sequel to Monstrous Devices–Alex and his grandfather hold the fate of history itself in their hands in a Rick Riordan meets Raiders of the Lost Ark adventure of epic proportions!
A few months ago, Alex’s world changed…forever.
Now, just when it seems life is almost getting back to normal, Alex’s grandfather crashes back into the picture with grave news: their friend Harry has fallen into the clutches of a familiar foe, and the old man needs Alex’s help to rescue him.
This time, the duo’s desperate dash across Europe leads from Paris deep into Germany’s foreboding Black Forest, as they chase down the mystery Harry had been investigating when he disappeared. A series of art thefts has made headlines across the continent, but the thieves are after more than priceless paintings. In the wrong hands, these stolen artefacts could unlock an ancient secret bigger than anything Alex ever dreamed of. If they can’t solve the riddle in time, innocent lives – and even history itself – could be at stake.”
Picking up several months after the events of The Monstrous Devices, Alex is still trying to work out how the robot fits into his life and answer the questions his grandfather left him with when they left Prague. When they find out Harry is in danger, they rush across Europe – from Paris to the Black Forest in Germany, and the world of art theft and stolen artefacts, But what drives this quest, and what will happen if these paintings and artefacts fall into the wrong hands – and what secret has his grandfather been hiding all these years? Alex will soon find out a deep secret that has made his grandfather who he is – and that has ultimately led to who their family is and decided the fate of Alex’s father many years ago.
The Shadow Arts is a dark story – one that is definitely not for sensitive readers. Like its predecessor, it is dark, intriguing and pulls together robots, magical toys and hints of the ancient golem myths =, and eternal life coupled with the risks, threats and dangers of art theft in the world that the characters inhabit. Again, magic, science and robotics are combined flawlessly. This allows the story to carry on effectively.
It still has that apocalyptic, thriller feeling for older middle grade to young adult readers and is one that will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat, with the action flowing throughout, and barely taking a break as the characters rocket at almost break-neck speed to reach the conclusion and stop the threat trying to control everything.
The Jewish aspect – the golem, the rabbi – are not present in this book but they do have a background presence as it is those aspects in the first book that have helped the characters get to where they are. It is a very different read to what some may be used to, but it is a very enthralling book and one that captures the imagination.