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The Shadow Chaser by Dylan Birtolo

At GenCon, Fluffy dragged me into the writer's gallery because there was an author with the same first name as myself. Naturally, I just wanted to see what other Dylan's write like, so I was just as interested as she was. Imagine my surprise when he writes in a similiar genre and theme as I do.

The Shadow Chaser is a 277 page book written by Dylan Birtolo about a man named Darien Yost who finds out that there is more to him that he could ever imagine. The story starts slow, but moves into a fast-paced style that kept me interested until the end; I went to bed late to read as much as I could just because I was so interested in it.

The topic of the book was very enjoyable. I like magic in the "modern" world without turning it into the dark depression of World of Darkness. The sensations of the magic were nice, with a nice attention to the detail that the various characters didn't exactly feel when they were using it, it was more perceptions of others, almost a seeming instead of true transformations. Some of the character traits were reflected in their powers, which also one of those tiny little detail things I look for.

The fight scenes were creative, actually using the traits of the combatants and also reflecting the various changing environments. The difference between the multiple worlds really showed up in the various scenary and also the "feel" of the story, enhanced by the use of italics for the "other" world. That part I enjoyed a lot.

Some minor things stood out as I read it, ignoring the one typo on page 90 since those always get in there.

I frequently got lost on the point of view. In the middle of a section, the view would change from one character to another and there wasn't a good way of indicating that the view had changed; sometimes I would go back to try figuring who was feeling what when.

As a fast-paced story, it flowed very well, but it also felt rushed. The montage-like scene in the middle, where two of the characters go from little skill to fairly high in skill (in magic for one and rifles in the other) didn't really feel right. If she showed a talents for guns earlier, it would have made more sense than just a sudden surge in skill. It also make it feel like everything was rushed.

The only other thing that stood out was the problem of perfection. The main character has awesome powers and everyone else knows it, but Dylan doesn't explain why. Instead, its just there to drive the story where it could have given the story more depth to explain why everyone knows, including the non-magical person. Contrasting that is that the characters make the wrong conclusion in the story and actually carry it through until the revelation, which made a nice little minor twist.

Despite the main character having these impressive powers, he also has setbacks, which makes the story great. In the story, he has a natural talent, more than most people, but there was still a feeling of danger and he wasn't exactly able to depending on his l33t powers to save him, instead the character protrayed showed a great deal of intelligence.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. The characters have an interesting potential for personalities and also it leaves it open for the "what if" that I always love at the end of stories. Not everything was neatly tied up which I consider one of the best parts of the stories, mainly because it made me think of what happened next.

Fluffy, while not as verbose as me, really enjoyed the story and kept pushing me to read it, because she knew I would enjoy it. And I did. I'm looking forward to the next one, mainly to see how the world develops and the mythology of this tale grows.