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Review: The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner
Published by Indigo
Challenge: BBC
Source: Amazon Vine

Arnold Ruben has created a memory machine, a utopia housed in a picture palace, where the happiest memories replay forever, a haven in which he and his precious daughter can shelter from the war-clouds gathering over 1937 Britain. But on the day of her seventeenth birthday Amaryllis leaves Warlock Hall and the world she has known and wakes to find herself in a desolate and disturbing place. Something has gone terribly wrong with her father's plan. Against the tense backdrop of the second World War Sally Gardner explores families and what binds them, fathers and daughters, past histories, passions and cruelty, love and devastation in a novel rich in character and beautifully crafted.

I've just finished The Double Shadow and have been left with this feeling that I've read a very clever book but yet I can't quite put into words how I feel about it and it might be one of those that I have to keep thinking about for a while.

For me this book had two parts. During the first part the reader meets Amaryllis a lonely teenage girl who lives in a creepy old house with her father. She is on the brink of being chucked out of her latest school and quite confused in herself as she is unable to remember most of her earlier memories. During the first section of this book you get to know her as a character along with all her idiosyncrasies meeting along the way some of the different characters you get to know as the book goes on. During this part you start to find out about her father's memory machine which he built to protect Amaryllis from having to live in a world of bad memories.

The section second of the book launches when something goes wrong with the memory machine trapping several characters within it and setting off a huge fire that engulfs the family home. From here on out the story gets more and more complex as the characters inside and outside of the machine start to explore what has happened. During this part of the story you get a real insight into what it means to have a family and what life was like living during the war. You also get a good idea about loss and how it affects people.

This book is a uniquely different offering in the current YA market which is beautifully written and absorbingly clever.


serendipity_viv said…
I am so excited by this book. The whole storyline is just amazing and original.
I just recieved a copy of this one and I'm really looking forward to it!