Roari Benjamin writes sci-fi and fantasy, laced with romance and adventure. She lives in Southern California with the love of her life, their son and daughter, three cats, two dogs, and a turtle. She tries to keep dull moments rare, as they should be.
Roari is the author of the Society in the Shadow of Civilization series. Her next project is a YA Urban Fantasy novel, involving nightmares, German folklore, and a family curse. Visit her blog at http://roaribenjamin.blogspot.com/.
on July 20, 2014 :
REVIEW OF THE SHADOW WATCHER
BY ROARI BENJAMIN
REVIEWED BY ALASTAIR ROSIE
Many of us have experienced the sensation that we were being watched and that theme has been utilised by countless writers over the centuries. It taps into our fear of the unknown combined with an innate curiosity as to what is out there. Roari Benjamin’s, The Shadow Watcher is one of those classic novels that pops up on the grid now and then. Admittedly there are some flaws in the plot but this is a debut novel from a new writer so I’m overlooking them for the most part.
Samantha Marquet is a quiet, studious young woman who’s been hurt in love and loses herself in writing and her part time job at a bar. We learn that her father died when she was quite young and left her with a fortune, which she tries hard to ignore in an attempt to make it on her own terms. After a violent encounter with another mysterious watcher we are introduced to the main shadow watcher, Michael, an immortal being from the future sent back to watch over her. There is a hint of Terminator here as what Samantha does will impact the future dramatically and the fate of the Flamella tree, a marvellous tree whose fruit gifted future mankind with immortal life. The tree has gone missing and her father’s supporters want to find it again. There are others from the future who also want the tree for their own purposes and therein lies a tale that is part Terminator, part Jumpers with strap on devices that can propel the wearer through time in a frantic race to keep the Flamella tree out of the wrong hands.
There are places where I think the plot could have been a bit stronger but this is a debut novel and speaking from experience, hindsight is always twenty twenty. Benjamin however has drawn us into Samantha’s head fairly quickly and we’re content to just ride along to see where we wind up next. Along the way we meet the Society, who support her father and mother, Jayden (Samantha’s best friend), Artemis the cat and a bunch of assassins and adventurers who add colour and tone to the story. The time travel does give you whiplash but she explains where her characters are going before they activate their devices. The world is well designed and she’s stayed away from detailed explanations of fictional technology, which would have been fatal and simply told a story of one woman’s journey to find her place in the world. It’s a classic coming of age even though she’s in her twenties and a woman of the world. That alone is refreshing because I’m getting a little tired of seeing high school kids acting and speaking like adults. I know as a teenager I certainly wasn’t that mature so making Samantha older is a nice touch. Samantha is one of those endearing characters that works her way into your being and you’re cheering her on even when she makes dumb mistakes because she’s so very human.
As a debut novel it works well. It introduces you to a new world and leaves enough strings dangling for a series. The character arc could be a little better as some characters do develop but others seem to stay the same and while they are part of the supporting cast it’s important to make subtle changes to their character as the story progresses. I thought Bailey, her boyfriend was excess baggage and while the love triangle works in many other books, in this one we’ve got enough alpha sex appeal with Michael to comfortably dispatch any rivals for her affections. He seems to pop in to give her a cuddle and then disappear again so one has to ask why he’s there at all. We all know she’s got it bad for Michael and vice versa, Bailey is just there to make up a triangle that shouldn’t exist in the first place to be totally honest.
I’d give this four stars because it really is quite good for a first novel and I look forward to reading a sequel although this book can be read as a stand alone novel.
Written by Alastair Rosie.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)