The Silhouette

Fiction - Literary
152 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Born to a Cypriot mother and a South African father, my youth was mostly spent in South Africa, both Johannesburg and Cape Town, however I have lived abroad, in Greece.
I have been writing in one way or another for over a decade, although The Silhouette is my first novel.
The inspiration behind my book is somewhat vague, however the meaning to the novel suggests I was inspired by the importance of family, friends, and the quest to understand oneself.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite

The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk presents an early twentieth-century rural commune that is flourishing but hiding a dark secret. The first several chapters present the beautiful, serene, wooded setting beside a glittering lake. There are three three-story cabins, and we meet the residents; at first, the kids getting up in the morning, then the women cooking breakfast, and the men preparing for a hard day’s manual labor. The place is idyllic, everyone chatting, teasing, and living in enviable harmony. One young teen is highlighted—James Galloway, son of Jenny, herself an echo of Hester Prynne. It reminded me of an Amish community, without a religious underpinning. Of course, no novel can consist of pure happiness, and we soon learn of a nearby community named Dreary, where the longtime mayor has just died suspiciously. Then comes a split between the Log Cabin Community and the town, particularly regarding the fatherhood of young James as it relates to the deceased mayor. The question is can this happy Log Cabin Community hold together?

Besides the unraveling of dark secrets and their implications, what impressed me most about The Silhouette is its literary style. Both the vague similarity of theme with The Scarlet Letter and the style of Hawthorne dominate the book. In its formality and florid language, the narrator’s storytelling took me back to my undergraduate literary studies, as if the style is the main purpose of the book and the third person narrator one of its main characters. The prose is magnificent in its rhythm, description, and characterization. Of all the books I’ve reviewed, this is the first that takes us back in time not only in plot and theme but in its amazing storytelling wordcraft. Sometimes I almost lost track of the story simply to enjoy Mr. Van Dyk’s literary art, as if he was longing for a narrative style before radio, TV, film and … Hemingway. If you long also for such a literary craft, where each phrase is its own work of art, don’t miss The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk.

Manik Chaturmutha

The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk depicts a flourishing rural town in the early 20th century that keeps a deadly secret. The opening few chapters illustrate the lovely, peaceful woodland next to a sparkling lake. We first encounter the occupants of the three cabins as they wake up in the morning, the women prepare breakfast, and the men prepare for a long day of manual tasks. Soon after, we find out about the neighboring town of Dreary, where the longtime mayor has passed away unexplainably. Eventually, James Galloway, a youngster, realizes that evil secrets have destroyed his conception of who he is as they start to take the form of tragic events that test his neighborhood's moral fiber and judgment.

The writing is creative and descriptive. The narration does a remarkable job of telling the story with its formal style. Not only does the storyline and concept of The Silhouette carry us back in time, but the incredible storytelling wordplay does as well. The revelation of dark secrets and their repercussions is masterfully handled. The character of James Galloway is developed interestingly, and his inner struggle is engaging. James' connection with his late father is well written, and it is heartwarming to see James cope with his father's death. The mystery regarding the death of the mayor is bewitching. The formatting is flawless. The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk will appeal to readers who appreciate mysteries and evocative writing.

Diana Lopez

In a forest with beautiful landscapes lives a supportive community. The inhabitants are accustomed to hard work in the fields and enjoy family moments. But even between laughter and games, some mysteries need to be solved. Everyone knows that preserving such a traditional lifestyle can be complicated. And now that the mayor is dead, many secrets will be revealed. This situation causes a young boy, James Galloway, to become involved in an unexpected family conflict. The Silhouette shows that keeping up appearances in a small town involves many sacrifices. In this way, author Andrew Van Dyk expresses how painful it can be to assume reality and confront the situations of the past.

The Silhouette is a short novel where the scenarios are as significant as the plot. The atmosphere is excellent, and all the landscapes described related to nature are very pleasing. You feel as if you are really in those timeless places. One aspect I liked is that Andrew Van Dyk gives a good level of prominence to several characters, which enables us to see several points of view. In this way, we can follow several stories from the past to solve the plot. In terms of the story development, the beginning gives the impression of being a quiet story. That's why I liked the second part better, where we try to solve the mystery, and also, there is a more active dynamic. For all these reasons, The Silhouette is an excellent story to enjoy a rural and intriguing mystery.

Maria Victoria Beltran

The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk is an engaging novel set in a twentieth-century log cabin commune. In the beginning, readers are transported to this beautiful and picturesque woodland beside a lake. Teenager James Galloway leads an idyllic life here with his mother, Jenny, and other families. It’s a place where men, women, and children live together and share responsibilities. They eat meals together, work together, and participate in community events. Nearby is the town of Dreary, the commune’s only connection to the outside world. However, the lives of the commune dwellers are disrupted when the town’s mayor is murdered. As a new mayor takes over, a series of unfortunate events unravel that will change James Galloway’s life forever.

Andrew Van Dyk’s The Silhouette is a beautifully written novel that aims to create a deeper understanding of the world and the human condition. The author’s descriptive literary style appeals to the senses and creates a clear picture in the mind of his readers. I found the pacing a bit slow at the start, but it picks up in the middle and holds your attention. What stands out in this book is the author’s prose style, language, and expression. He explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. I find the character of Jenny similar to that of Hester Prynne in the Scarlet Letter, but she has more going for her. This is Van Dyk’s debut novel, and I look forward to more books from this gifted storyteller.

Miche Arendse

The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk follows the story of a young man born and raised in a rural community out in the woods. In this pristine and harmonious commune, all seems to be well but looks can be deceiving. James Galloway never had a reason to suspect that his life was anything more than what it appeared to be, but when the mayor of a nearby town dies, old and buried secrets may be revealed. What does the death of Dreary’s mayor have to do with him and can he solve this mystery?

The Silhouette by Andrew Van Dyk is what you would call a literary masterpiece. Van Dyk’s amazing ability to weave words into such cleverly composed prose will leave you breathless. This style of writing is scarcely seen and it is honestly a breath of fresh air. The descriptions in this book are written in such a way that they not only allow readers to imagine what is being described but also feel it. Each line seems to be written with care and readily evokes emotion in the reader. It is this element that elevates the book and the storyline and makes it unique.

I found this book to be a pleasure to read and enjoyed the overall plotline as well as the characters. The plot itself isn’t anything too different from what I’ve encountered before but Van Dyk’s writing style is what set this book apart for me. I think any reader who enjoys a beautiful and unusual writing style would love this book.

Pikasho Deka

The Silhouette is a mystery drama by Andrew Van Dyk. James Galloway has spent most of his fifteen years living in the humdrum collective of Log Cabin Community, situated near the small town of Dreary. The LCC houses 120 members, including James' mother Jenny, each contributing to the tight-knit community, and far away from the hustle and bustle of mainstream society. However, when Mr. Slade, the mayor of Dreary, dies under mysterious circumstances, nefarious elements storm the seemingly peaceful commune, impacting the lives of the inhabitants like never before. When James is kidnapped by the mayor-to-be and son of Mr. Slade, he finds himself entangled in buried secrets of the past, which will turn the lives of all upside down.

Secrets, deceit, and betrayal, together with the impact of the past on the present and future, run rampant through The Silhouette. In this novel, Andrew Van Dyk explores the seemingly inevitable nature of lies and how they influence reality. The narrative sheds light on this through the point of view of one adolescent teenager whose life shatters as he realizes the truth behind his inheritance. Through an unpredictable plot and fully realized characters with layers to peel away, Van Dyk has created a captivating drama about human psychology and its ever-complex motivation. The prose is as smooth as melted butter, making the story a breeze to go through. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and if you love stories that pull the rug from under your feet, you will too.