Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guest review of "Shifter" by Steven D. JacksonB

Back in June I read this awesome book by Steven D. Jackson called Shifter - you can read my review here

In recent conversations with the author, I offered to host a guest post and he asked if I would mind posting a review he recently received by Jack L. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy has indicated that this review is not copyrighted and may be used by the author or his representatives as he will. Without further ado, here is Jack L. Kennedy's thoughts on the marvelous Shifter!

By Jack L. Kennedy

Are you certain you know where you are? Or even who you are? Do forces keep shifting around you, as what you thought was reality becomes mystical? Scare you into perhaps hiring a young attorney? If so, you will enjoy a creative, intriguing, first novel, “Shifter” by Steven D. Jackson (Rhemalda)

Jackson is a London lawyer who lives in Southampton and is a leader of Mensa, the brainy bunch. Think about that for a while. With literary luck, as the sands of time continue to shift, you will hear from him again. He reveals in an e-mail interview that he was a lad of only 24 when he wrote Shifter (He is now 27) and “it’s taken a while to get to this point. In honesty, I never really expected to see (it) made into a final novel. It was all so sudden and exciting that I can barely believe it actually happened.”

As a preface to the tight, promising tome, Jackson tells readers, “In many ways, Shifter represents my attempt to shoe-horn my life into the shape I wanted it to be and celebrates the fact that I eventually managed it, but I couldn’t have done it alone." He adds that many friends “served unwittingly as inspiration for characters in this book.”

“The main character is a lawyer yeah, very much like me (at the time),” he added in our email interview. “I drew a lot on my own circumstances in the first chapter or two and then made it up. In a way I suppose you could say that Shifter records what I might have wished would happen to me to change a life I wasn’t happy with at the time. But no, it’s not autobiographical in any wider sense.”

Perhaps he is right, but Shifter is exciting, well-crafted and moving as young professional John tries to figure out why people and physical surroundings seem to change around him. Is he—or the rest of his environment—mentally ill? What is reality? John runs into “the company” or “the organization,” which at times sounds like Britain’s MI5 or America’s CIA—or, may simply be a paranoid figure of the imagination. Do bring your imagination as you read this book. The organization has men and women assigned to be keepers or recallers of the past in case the shifters or bad guys or hidden forces try to change too much too fast. Shifters are described as people who “can change the world around them to fit what they want it to be. Some are better at it than others.” Poor observers caught up in the deaths, psychiatrists, shaky relationships, doubts and fears (sound like our real world)? might not realize anything is shifting at all, at least until it is too late.

Perhaps the locale for Chapter 23, the reader will discover, is a major clue to the plot, its meaning, and why the author is who he is....or perhaps not.

This may be the best first novel you read this year. It is certainly the most unusual, and the most promising. Good versus evil, definition versus doubt
always makes a good read. Jackson says he was pleasantly surprised when the Moses Lake, Wa. publisher picked up the young Brit lawyer’s book. He says he finished his second book a few weeks ago, which is “totally different and in my opinion a lot more exciting. It’s the kind of book I’d actually like to read myself.”

So would we. So should you.

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