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Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure by Johnny Armstrong



Magical, full of whimsy, and rich in vivid descriptions, this is the animal fiction done right…

In this charming debut tale, Armstrong adeptly blends classic storytelling with the usual genre tropes of literary fiction, creating a timeless, brilliant story of an animal kingdom. When news of a group of vicious sans-palages inflicting destruction on neighboring jungles reaches residents of the prehistoric Southern forest, the endearing Zak, a possum and a poet, sets on a dangerous journey into the vast and forbidden forest to seek help from the rodent clan of the North. But separated from his own surroundings and his wise bob-cat companion, Sena, he quickly loses all sense of direction. As starvation, wolf predation, drowning, illness, and vast ice sheet of North make Zak feel “hopelessly lost,” the conspicuous drought and the raging wildfire wreck havocs back home with a malicious villain Mungo, the savage leader of sans-palages, on a mission to destroy their home. Still lost but determined to get the help his friends needed, Zak continues his journey, learning about his own identity in the due process. To stop Mungo from burning down his forest, Zak must triumph over the perils he faces or risk losing his home forever. Armstrong’s depiction of Zak and other feathered and furry forest folks is as convincing as his portrayal of sans-palages, the prehistoric humans, with their seemingly senseless ways rooted in ignorant spiritual belief. His sans-palages exhibit a wide range of behavior, showing themselves to be ignorant, devious, and conceited, along with decent, loving and courageous. The forest folks (animals) are sketched with great skill and understanding. Zak is absolutely adorable, a possum of good intentions, a hero to root for; Armstrong makes his story both emotionally fraught and witty yet enriching one for the reader. The fierce and spunky Swrogah will make readers cheer for her throughout, and the gentle giant Sark, the enigmatic Moksoos, the ingenious Sena are equally convincing. Armstrong captures the vast wilderness of prehistoric woodland and the barren beauty of vast ice belt in its full glory with breathtaking descriptions, executing a finely calibrated juggling act between the real and the imaginary. Filled with memorable characters, excellent worldbuilding, and witty dialogue, Armstrong’s superb tale brilliantly speaks to the environmental issues of today. It’s as much a story of perseverance, courage, self-discovery, and friendship as it’s of the battle between good and evil. Fans of Richard Adams’s Watership Down will feel right at home.



An Animal Adventure

By Johnny Armstrong

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Guernica World Editions

Pub date may 1, 2019

ISBN 9781771834605

Price $18.38 (USD) paperback, $7.36 Kindle edition

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