Casting Shadows EverywhereCasting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A dark and twisted coming of age tale with a satisfying conclusion. Told as a teenage boy’s journal this breaks a couple of writing rules, it is mostly tell with little show, which works because this is a journal. There are stories through the journal of the protagonist’s fevered dreams, and we get ‘then I woke up’ a couple of times. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we get a good view of the inner psyche of the character (helped along by the fact that there is also a commentary on what he’s learning in Psychology 101 that seems to mirror some of what is going on in his life).

The basis of the story is that Jake has grown up in a single parent family. Lacking a male role model he turns to his elder cousin, Nick. Nick, however, is a criminal with no real moral compass. Jake is a victim, but Nick takes him out and builds his confidence. This helps Jake with Beth, a girl he likes and who is friendly to him. It also help Jake deal with the school bullies. However, all is not well and there is a startling turn for the worse 2/3rds of the way through. I’ll avoid spoilers, but it kept me reading and the last third of the book was read faster and more avidly than the earlier parts were.

The ending was psychologically satisfying, not exactly a feel good, but it brought closure to the story in a way that both made sense to me as a reader and also for the characters too.

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