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We join the protagonist, Jake Kendrick, as he begins negotiations with a newly-discovered, tribe, the Tabna, for the mineral benesha, which appears to be a solution to world hunger. But remember, in this world, things are seldom what they appear to be, including the main character.
Jake is a fantastic character with depth, motivation, and as required by all protagonists, a flaw. He is an accomplished negotiator, successful, and only three-and-a-half feet tall. However, his physical stature is not his flaw. Instead, his vulnerability lies in his own perception of himself based on his height. This is important, because perception – reality and illusion is a key theme throughout the story. In many ways, Shadowline Drift follows the classic Hero’s Journey. However, Ms. Razevich plays with some of the roles. Combining, for instance, the roles of the mentor and the antagonist within one character, and later introducing a second character who exhibits a similar duality.
It is interesting that the first, Mawgis, is an older male from the Tabna tribe, and the second, Naheyo, is a young female from the Lalunta village. Each is gifted with unusual powers, which at times help and other times hinder Jake’s progress as he follows a journey to save humanity from a trap he unwittingly sprung. This counterpoint between the two characters contributes to Jake’s confusion. Since, he can’t trust his own senses, time, or reality, how can he trust either of them? He finds his touchstone in the anthropologist, Pilar Ramirez. Yet, with her invitation to study the Naheyo culture at stake, can he even trust her?
These are some of the questions, Jake must struggle with as he fights for his own sanity on his quest to save mankind. The reader will find themselves drawn into this fast-paced story with its beautiful imagery, powerful language, realistic setting and authentic, diverse characters. It is obvious, that Ms. Razevich either knows the Amazon well, or did extensive research into the area and the process of interacting with previously uncontacted tribes. She touches on some of the issues threatening the rainforest, and her descriptions color the world without overwhelming the narrative or slowing the pace. This is a delicate balance, often missed by authors. This is writing at its best.
I would be remiss, if I did not mention the quality of the editing, as well. In most books, including traditionally published by the top publishing companies, several typographical and grammatical errors catch my eye. However, in Shadowline Drift, I only noticed two minor typographical errors during my first reading. Neither of these ejected me from the fictive dream. Even on my second read, and with closer inspection, I was unable to detect any more. Now, this is not to say there might not be more, but even during the second reading, I found myself absorbed into the world. A spectacular feat to achieve. Regardless, the editor who worked with the author deserves kudos as well.
I have only one complaint with this book, and it is relatively minor. While I understand that Jake’s perception of himself based on his stature is important to the theme and plot, sometimes, I felt that it was overstated. I think Ms. Razevich can trust her reader’s to make the connection. After all, Jake has lived with this condition for twenty-eight years and is successful in his chosen field. While insecurities do motivate and compel us, they do not tend to enter our conscious thought as often as they seem to with our protagonist. A more subtle approach would have achieved the same story goal, perhaps even more successfully. Still, as I said, this was relatively minor for me, as the story still engrossed me.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a well-researched setting combined with magical world-building. In fact, I recommend, following this author’s journey, as I believe she will be producing even greater work in the future. I intend to buy her other book, Khe, published in 2012, and I look forward to reading subsequent books by Ms. Razevich.
I rate this book 4 out of 4.
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