The Book of M: A Novel by Peng Shepherd

Reviewed by Diane Pollock

The Book of MWhat if you had no shadow? What if in losing your shadow you lost yourself?

This mysterious apocalyptic fantasy tale draws you into it’s world and holds you there, shivering.

Ory and his wife Max have been hiding out in an abandoned hotel, scavenging for supplies and avoiding both the shadowed and the shadowless. But, then Max loses her shadow.
With the shadow, she will lose her memories over time. And she will gain a power to manipulate reality that is dangerous to her beloved husband. So she decides to leave him before she forgets.

Desperate to spend as much time with her as he can, he seeks to follow.

This book really resonates with the times we live in. It features a diverse, multicultural group of characters; an Iranian woman who comes to the US as an Olympic archer, an Indian man who is the first to lose his shadow and a recently married gay couple driven apart by the loss of a shadow.

The loss of self, of identity, can be part of the price paid for the blurring of nation, culture, history and border. The shadowless stand in for what many of us feel in our new world, unmoored and alone, unsure of who we are.

The ending is profound and surprising, a strange hope for a better future.