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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
“The devil took my hand and led me into darkness.” It’s the calm before the storm in The Shadow of the Firefly by Jeff Shannon. Set in the late '60s in a town called Sycamore Valley, ten-year-old Maggie Schoop loves playing baseball and proving her worth on the field. She and her family live a simple but good life. Yet, there’s someone lurking in the abandoned building of Sycamore Valley Asylum, someone who's going to change her life in ways she could never imagine.
The Shadow of the Firefly is predominantly character-driven. The opening pages are relaxing and took me back to my own carefree childhood, apart from a distinctly creepy moment of Maggie’s first sighting of the ‘ghost’. The narrative is straightforward with its clear-cut prose. Shannon provides a simple eccentricity to the Schoop family and the neighborhood. The deft characterization of Maggie, her family members, and the town－albeit fictional－makes for a poignant and occasionally informative read, particularly about the inadequacy of the health care system for the disabled and mentally ill.
Maggie’s a kid who enjoys life as you’d expect any kid before they reach the arguably difficult and confusing teenage years. The story pace is moderate, yet gradually builds up around the mysterious individual who silently watches Maggie’s daily life and instigates some of the events in the neighborhood. All in all, this is an unhurried but gripping novel with a good twist that kept me on edge until the end.