The Fire of Creation by Garth Ennis is a novel based on The Shadow pulp novels from the 1930’s. The Shadow is a vigilante, dealing justice to criminals who escape traditional justice. The Shadow here borrows heavily from the radio series. He has the power to “cloud men’s minds” and has an alter ego of Lamont Cranston. He travels with Margo Lane, a prominent character in the radio series, though not as prominent in the pulps. This Shadow is also very willing to deal death to evildoers, probably a little more graphically than I prefer.
The story opens with the Japanese-Chinese conflict during World War II. The Shadow is tracking the greater criminals to prevent a much larger crime from occurring. Throughout the story we see the wealthy Lamont Cranston interacting with military figures to initiate an expedition to China. The military has hopes to find a rare radioactive element that will make a “death ray” possible. They’re trying to race the Germans and Japanese to this element as well. Along the way we see many appearances of The Shadow to protect, guide, mislead, and deal justice. Those are counterbalanced with Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane traveling to their destination in China. The story definitely feels like a Shadow story, though more after the radio tradition than the novels. As such, The Shadow is more of an all-knowing character with super powers as opposed to the great detective operating behind the scenes we see in the pulps.
My thoughts: The story works well and I won’t go into a lot of details to avoid spoiling the reader’s enjoyment of the story. I wasn’t a big fan of the violence displayed quite so fully. I think it can be expressed without being seen. Outside of that, I enjoyed the story and the adventure. I was always interested to see how The Shadow would appear and interact with the story only to fade back to Lamont Cranston as the story progressed. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger children – there’s just too much graphic violence for them. I would recommend for long-time Shadow fans who don’t mind seeing bullets flying pretty regularly throughout the story.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way by the publisher or anyone else.