Sunday 4 December 2011


Book review: The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Indigo, 352 pages.

Description: Arnold Ruben has created a memory machine, a utopia housed in a picture palace, where the happiest memories replay forever, a haven in which he and his precious daughter can shelter from the war-clouds gathering over 1937 Britain.

But on the day of her seventeenth birthday Amaryllis leaves Warlock Hall and the world she has known and wakes to find herself in a desolate and disturbing place.

Something has gone terribly wrong with her father's plan.



It's 1937 when we first meet Amaryllis Ruben; a troubled teenager that runs away from school and endures something terrible before she's kicked out. As her father comes to take her home the reader starts to sense there is more to the rebellious act Amaryllis puts up. The distance she keeps between herself and her father isn't perhaps all due to the stage in her life she's in.

Amaryllis at first comes across as a cold and often cruel character, particularly to those trying to get closer to her (Ms Bright and Ezra for instance). However, this turns around with the introduction of "the memory machine", an invention by her father that at first sounds far too science fiction to be set just before the second world war, but ends up working very well in his time period where people are stuck between the past and the future and trying to find an escape to the looming war ahead.

Sally Gardner takes the reader on a journey from the late thirties into the early forties, slowly unravelling the shocking truth to the memory machine and Amaryllis's past. On the way we meet a range of intriguing characters, some of which follow their own interesting paths throughout the novel and may surprise the reader in the end (Tommy Treacle and Silas come to mind).

The Double Shadow is an exceptionally well-written novel, realistically depicting the time period it's set in while simultaneously giving off a sense of the impossible. Or the unknown. Each of the characters, no matter how small their part in the overall arc, are properly established and have their own developments without taking anything away from the main story.

Recommended for adult or older YA readers.

1 comment:

  1. I'll keep an eye out for this one! Thanks for your reviews! I've been skimming through the ones for books that might interest me.


Share Button