The Colony of Shadows is gripping, emotive, and atmospheric fiction with disability representation.
Table of Contents
Disclaimer – Many thanks to Publisher for sending review copy as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program.
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A GRIEVING CHILD.
A MYSTERIOUS COLONY.
A LURKING MENACE.
After the untimely death of his parents, nine-year-old Varun struggles to adjust to his new life in Bangalore with his perceptive aunt and bedridden grandmother. When he climbs through a hole in the wall of their back garden, he discovers a mysterious colony that lies abandoned and in ruins. It’s strangely familiar, and the more he explores it, the more it resembles his old home in Delhi. But the comfort of familiarity is deceptive, for something dangerous lurks in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike – and wreak havoc. Will Varun survive this threat? Or will he vanish from the world, swallowed alive by the colony of shadows?
In this gripping debut novel, Bikram Sharma tells an emotionally rich tale about loss, grief, and hope, and the lengths we go to for the people we love.
gripping, emotive, and atmospheric fiction with disability representation
The Colony of Shadows is fiction with paranormal elements and disability representation that revolves around nine-year-old Varun who is living with his blind aunt and old grandmother after losing his parents in an accident. The family is dealing with grief and going through lots of changes especially Varun who in memory of his mother spends his time in the back garden.
When he discovers a portal in the garden, it takes him to a mysterious shadow colony that promises him a second chance to meet his parents. But there is a sinister shadow lurking in the colony that not just could swallow him but also could threaten his remaining family. It was interesting to see if he could face the sinister shadow or give in to his desire to be with his parents.
Writing is gripping and emotive with multiple perspectives that help understand each character of the house really well including the dog, Poppy. They all have baggage and they all are dealing with the loss of Varun’s parents differently.
It was hard to understand Varun’s grandmother Usha. I could understand her grief as a mother. Losing a daughter at old age isn’t a small thing and grief is weighing down her old bones but I couldn’t get why she is frustrated and ungrateful towards her other daughter, Jyoti.
It was clear she cared for her and wanted the best for her but at the same time, it felt like she didn’t love her as much as she loved Anu (Varun’s mom). It looked like they both had age age-old unresolved crisis that started when Jyoti lost her eye-sight at a young age that I don’t resolve at the end of the story but the whole paranormal incident (that she wasn’t quite aware of) definitely made her change and be a little more grateful of Jyoti.
Jyoti is amazing throughout the book. She is blind and yet as much or should I say more capable than a person with eyesight. She is independent, caring, and passionate but as much as she can sense people’s emotions she is also not good at suppressing her emotions especially when it comes to her mother.
She is more composed for Varun’s sake and hides her grief of losing her sister pretty well but when alone her grief is hard not to notice. I loved how she took Varun’s responsibility, did everything around the house and at the same time tried to understand him and his needs and always made him feel loved. It was amazing how her love and actions helped Varun feel strong not just emotionally but also mentally.
Varun is a lovely boy. His grief is most touching. All the regrets and guilt he felt for not giving his mother more time or not appreciating what he had with them enough is palpable. It hurt to see him hurting remembering all the lost moments that he wouldn’t get again.
Even with his heavy grief we can see he has the innocence and curiosity of the young boy that leads her through the wall of the back garden to the other side called Shadow Colony which is an exact mirror image of his home in Munirka Colony in Delhi.
I liked how he navigated through. He is a brave boy and has a sense of detecting danger, being careful in the unknown place, and seeing the differences between reality and deception.
I liked Poppy’s POV. She is a brave old dog. Her backstory is heartbreaking. Her love and loyalty to family is amazing and I loved how she protected Varun.
Theme and disability representation is the best part. The theme of loss, grief, and adapting to changes in life after losing loved ones is perfectly written. Disability representation is so realistic. I agree with all the points the author put forward on what a blind person goes through in India and how people behave and react around them.
The Shadow Colony gives the plot an atmospheric vibe. I don’t think there is much clarity on how there is a portal to the other dimension or place where ghosts go after an unexpected death or something or if it’s a manifestation of Varun’s grief. Poppy says the portal has been there for a long time and Varun going through it had consequences. But I liked how the whole idea helped him deal with grief.
The climax is interesting but predictable. I could see it coming ever since Varun crossed the boundary. I don’t know why Varun didn’t tell Jyoti what Praveen said. I’m glad that idiot irresponsible selfish person isn’t in Jyoti’s life anymore. The end is good and I’m happy to see all the characters getting over their grief and moving on in life.
Why 4 stars –
I would have liked more clarity on the portal or other dimensions and also more depth on character relationships. Conversations between characters especially when they were arguing were okay. The plot is predictable.
Overall, The Colony of Shadows is gripping, emotive, and atmospheric fiction with disability representation.
I recommend this book if you like,
Portal/ other dimension fiction
Theme of loss and grief
Fiction with Disability representation
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