Apr 26, 2008

Voice of our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll

The protagonist of this story is Joe Lennox, and in the first part of this book he tells us about a childhood spent in the shadow of his charismatic and unruly older brother, and about the guilt he still feels regarding the accident that killed him at age sixteen. Now let us fast forward about ten years. Joe is a moderately successful writer living in Vienna. His first published short story, based on some of the experiences of his brother and his equally rebellious best friend, has been adapted into a very successful play. Joe is not exactly unhappy, but he is lonely.

Then one day he meets Paul and India Tate. They’re an American couple in their early forties who turn out to be the exact kind of friends Joe has been looking for his whole life. Everything is perfect for a few months, but things take a tragic turn when it becomes undeniable that Joe and India are falling in love.

As you may have gathered, the fantasy elements of this story are subtle – in fact, they are barely visible at all until a little over halfway through the book. But from the very start, there is a faint strangeness to the story – the mood is a little unsettling, and you realize that the world you’re seeing through Joe’s eyes is haunted and unique.

Jonathan Carroll is a wonderful writer. He lures you into the story and does not let go until the very end. I couldn't put this book down, and once I did put it down, because it was over, I wanted to go back and start reading it all over again. Voice of our Shadow is an odd and memorable book about love and longing, regret and guilt, and the past catching up with you even when you think you'd left it safely behind.

This book has an unforgettable ending, one of those that can be read in several ways, all of which are chilling. Once you get to the end, you realize that the book will never be the same again. You can’t read it twice in the same manner. Everything gains a new significance. The more I think about this story – and I have been doing that a great deal for the past 24 hours – the more I realize how well everything fits together, how brilliant and eerie the whole thing is.

Voice of our Shadow reminded me a little of a more subtle Heart-Shaped Box (Heart-Shaped Box is creepy as you read it, but Voice of our Shadow only becomes so in retrospect). I guess that what I mean is mostly that both are stories in which the supernatural plays an important role, but that at their core are about people and their secrets and the toll they take on their emotional lives.

Voice of our Shadow is a love story, a ghost story, and a deliciously strange and unique book. I highly recommend it.


  1. Alex is reading some of this series so maybe I can buy this for him and then steal it back to read! It sounds like a fun mixture of elements which we would bnoth enjoy.

  2. I came through as one of the Weekly Geeks and really enjoy your blog. I'll be adding it to my blogroll.

  3. This book sounds so incredible Nymeth! I've been wanting to read some Jonathan Carroll for awhile now. Stormfilled has been reading quite a bit of him lately and has actually gotten to know him a little bit! I just signed up for Bookmooch today and I'm going to go add this to my wishlist :D Though I may just go buy it since no is offering it right now...I love books like this! My problem with Heart Shaped Box was that it was a little too over the top for my taste...I thought he could have done with a bit more subtlety and it sounds like Carroll went in the total opposite direction which is what I like more. That more haunting feel unnerves me more than anything! Excited about this one!

  4. This sounds beautiful! I love stories that are written so subtley that you can find different meanings and depths each time you think about it, or reread it. I shall definitely be looking this one up, after I get through the other 3 pages of recommendations in my notebook. I knew joining the blogging world would be trouble!!

  5. I have never heard of this book but it sounds great. I enjoyed Heart Shaped Box

    Cool Blog.

    Thanks Cheryl

  6. Wow...you have really left me intrigued! Definitely want to pick this one up...in fact, my husband just walked in the room and I told him I *need* this book and he said, "Stick in the Amazon cart if they have it, because I'm sending an order later today." Thanks, Nymeth!

  7. I'm putting this on my list--thanks for the review. My pocketbook, however, does not thank you. ;) I've heard good things about Heart-Shaped Box as well, but I love a story that keeps me thinking after I've put it down.

  8. Rhinoa: The Fantasy Masterworks series is so great...I'd love to read them all someday. Anyway, your plan is a great one :P

    Thatsthebook: Thanks for stopping by :) I'm very glad to hear you enjoyed my blog.

    Chris: You know, I thought of you when I was reading this one...it's definitely different from Heart-Shaped Box in those ways you didn't like all that much. Well, the stories themselves are not all that similar, but they do share a certain something. Bookmooch can be frustrating when you're looking for a specific book...not only do you have to wait, but when it becomes available you have to be lucky enough to see it before all the other people who have it on their wishlists. But if you're just browsing you can find some unexpected gems!

    Mariel: lol! I'm sure you were warned :P But yeah, I love stories like that too.

    Cheryl, thanks :) I enjoyed Heart-Shaped Box a lot too.

    Debi: yay for sticking it in the Amazon cart :P This one would be perfect for RIP III! I say this in case you're wondering which challenge would provide a good excuse to read it :P

    Trish: My pocketbook hates all of you :P But I don't, of course. I love stories like that too. I hope you enjoy this one!

  9. Ooh Nymeth, on reading this I've had to go and find the Book God's copy of this book, and my own as-yet-unread copy of the Heart Shaped Box and put them on my tbr really soon pile. Thanks for the review!

  10. Great review, Nymeth! I'm going to put this to my wishlist! I just bought Heart-Shaped Box recently so I'm looking forward to reading that as well. :)

  11. Brideofthebookgod: I hope you enjoy them both :)

    Melody, can't wait to see what you think of it!

  12. Another one I must put on my wish list. It sounds incredible.

  13. Literary Feline: It is! I hope you think the same when you get to it!

  14. It takes incredible writing skill to create such a subtle mood of strangeness. Sounds like this book is definitely worth a look. Thanks for the review!

  15. Jonathan Carroll also publishes a great daily blog on his website www.jonathancarroll.com


  16. How in the world did I miss that you had reviewed this book? I really enjoy Jonathan Carrol's work and have not heard of this one but it certainly sounds like something I want to read! I'm going to have to keep this is mind for sometime this year. Great review as always.

  17. Rachael: Yes, it really does, doesn't it?

    Finn: I do visit his blog occasionally. Thanks for the link :)

    Carl: I hope you enjoy this one. It would be a great choice for RIP too!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.