CSFF Blog Tour – The Shadow and Night by Chris Walley

[Note:  I wrote this post right after I had finished the book, and I’ve not edited it, even though I think I sound a little critical.  I really wanted to give my first impression of it, and this is it.  I really did enjoy the book once I got in to it, so even though it’s failings are mostly aesthetic, I felt the need to say “hey, we need cooler looking books”.  Also, I did receive the letter from the author that was included with the book.  However, I commented on the book as though I didn’t have the letter.  The public at large doesn’t get the letter when they go buy the book, I assume, so the comments are based on what I felt before I read the letter.  Finally, I do judge a book buy it’s cover, and wanted to talk about my journey with the book, from the outside in as that’s how I experienced the book.  It truly started with disappointment, and finished with a nice glowey feeling towards the book and the author.  I just wanted to put this all out there, before everyone thought that I was mean, or something.] 

When I opened the package and dumped The Shadow and Night out, I was rather disappointed.  I’m not a strong Sci-Fi fan as it is, and the look of the book (not to mention the size) seemed daunting and filled me with dread.  I was sad that I had agreed to participate in this review, as I felt obligated to read the book because they sent me a copy.  So, I thumbed through it, noticed a letter from the author, and put it on the shelf.  I knew I had to read it before the tour, but I wasn’t going to start it the instant I received it.

I think that the first thing that put me off was the cover.  I understand the art of it, but I think they could have done a much better job.  Well, maybe I would be more fair to say that it didn’t appeal to me.  Truthfully, I dislike the title and the silver blocking at the top of the book.  I found the white text on the silver somewhat hard to read and thus, not aesthetically pleasing.  The spine of the book would have been fine, had they used all black font, rather than the white and black.  I even like the graphic under the series name (The Lamb Among the Stars).  I can’t say that I love the font they used, but they picked one that isn’t boring nor cheesy… which is sometimes all you can ask for. 

There are a few disservices that this cover does specifically for the book.  For the most part, I enjoyed the story, and it is actually quite compelling.  I really hated that they used Amazon reviews on the back cover.  I understand if you have a couple of well known authors/people/whomever to write blurbs for, but when I see that they’ve taken Amazon reviews it makes me think that the book is obviously not good enough to get some proper reviews.  I have no issue with them using the Amazon reviews inside the book, but it seemed tacky to me to use them on the back cover.  I would have even preferred to see an expanded story blurb, or an author biography.  Also, the front says that it is “A fantasy in the tradition of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien”.  I haven’t read CS Lewis’ space trilogy, so I don’t know whether the statement is true.  However, whenever a work is compared to JRR Tolkien, they are usually referencing the Lord of the Rings, and frankly?  This is NOTHING like LOTR.  So much so that I’m a little irritated that it was mentioned, I guess I just felt like the publisher was taking a lot of liberty (and maybe making the book sound all puffed up with pride) by saying “hey, it’s kind of like two of the most influencial modern authors”.  I also take issue with them calling it a fantasy.  It is clearly NOT a fantasy book, as the term is understood by me in a genre sense. 

I don’t like how they used the graphic from the cover inside the book.  It could have been better executed, as it looks like it was printed on a cheap dot matrix printer.  I just looks sloppy, in my opinion (this could be a style thing, I don’t know).

I thought the maps were nice, and the blue paper inside the cover is actually quite pretty.  I also liked how they used that same pattern from the blue paper as the scene dividers, but truthfully they could have used a graphic with more meaning (like the logo behind the series name from the spine?).

The book is pretty gigantic – a whopping 613 pages.  Make no mistake, it’s thick because there is a lot of reading to do!  However, the paper is a nice weight which makes the pages easy to turn, even if it does put your hands to sleep while you’re holding it (you’ll see my love of paperbacks come out here).  It does look reasonably nice on the shelf, as most hardcovers do, but it sadly doesn’t jump out.  If I were in the bookstore, I’d probably pass this one by quite quickly and move on to something with a little more… something.  I can’t quite put my finger on WHY it doesn’t appeal to me, but I don’t think I fully can.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the actual book.  After all, we’re not to judge a book by its cover, are we?  In the mean time, please check out the links in my sidebar to view the other participants, Chris Walley’s official website, and his blog.