Sunday, May 23, 2010

Leonardo's Shadow Review (Christopher Grey)

1497 Milan. It has been eight years since Giacomo was taken under the wing of the great Leonardo da Vinci. He had no memory of his past or where he came from, but he was quite satisfied to be known simply as Leonardo's servant - until now.

At fifteen, Giocomo's desire to discover his true identity has reached its peak. Leonardo claims to know nothing and wishes his servant would leave such questions alone. Torn between his obligations to his master and his search for the truth, Giocomo is pulled into a whirlwind of events that will threaten not only his own life, but also the fate of the entire city . . .
This isn't just a story about a boy trying to discover his identity - though a good portion of the book is spent on that. This book takes place during the time that Leonardo was painting The Last Supper, so that comes into play a lot as well - as does a few of Leonardo's inventions. It's a fun read for people who are familiar with Leonardo's work and the history surrounding this particular time in history.
That said, time to focus on the negative. I don't particularly like stories that are written in the present tense. It gives books waaaay too much of a movie feel, which detracts from the general splendor of the written word. This book is also written in first person, and I am fond of first person narratives. But there's something in Christopher Grey's first person style that I don't like, and it's not just the fact that it's coupled with present tense. He uses really short phrases a lot, giving the story a very choppy, moment-by-moment feel - again, movie-ish. It really takes away from the story.
And the story is good! It's an interesting read - if not a little too accurate in the way life was in 1497 Milan, and if one can get over some of the sexual hints. There is nothing explicit and nothing ever happens, but it's an element thrown in that gets a little tiring. Throw those things aside and the general writing style, and it's a good read.
Until you get to the end. Let it be known that there are a lot of plotlines running through this story, and they all get tied up. But some of the plotlines - namely, Giocomo's past and the mysterious items he is found being in possession of when Leonardo takes him in - are tied up loosely and leave the Reader disappointed. This isn't a book waiting for a sequel, so the loose-tying of the ends isn't a good element. It just leaves much to be desired.
I found Leonardo's Shadow interesting, but I don't think a copy will ever rest within my library as a permanent resident.

Star Rating: 2/5 (it was ok)


  1. I usually put down a book if I find that it's first person present-tense. I don't mind first person, but when it's in present tense it does have that movie-ish, choppy feel and I just can't read it.

  2. Reading first-person present-tense does tend to leave me feeling glitchy. I really wish this story hadn't been written like that, because it is an interesting story.


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