3 Star rating
The Shadow Master
By Craig Cormick
ISBN# 9780857665140
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar


In a land riven with plague, in the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control – the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation. And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack.


The Shadow Master was interesting. Sometimes, science and magic are the same thing, but other times they are not.

As you can see in the summary, The Shadow Master is a representation of Romeo and Juliet. But in The Shadow Master, Craig Cormick gives a new spin to the tale where the love of Lorenzo and Lucia is more powerful than the love that Romeo and Juliet had. There is more to the fight for between the Medici and the Lorraines and there is a plague that devastates the world making people desperate to do anything for a cure.

I liked the story’s idea which the author presents as new and old at the same time. It might be the same setting, but the characters are very different from the ones they were based on. Lucia fights until the end for her love, and I believe she wouldn’t try to kill herself if Lorenzo were to die. Another thing is that both Lorenzo and Lucia are eighteen years old, older than Romeo and Juliet in the original story.

The Shadow Master also has several side stories. One being Leonardo and Galileo whom are the genius ones of the two families. One creates objects which make time go slower; claws that can climb walls; and legs to jump higher. The other one, creates inventions that allow the human the ability of metamorphosis making them able to fly, dig, and swim like an animal. These two  characters are the pillars that hold the balance between the families war.

The stories of Duke Lorraines and Cosimo Medici, respectively, are also as interesting and sad at the same time. Cosimo, with the death and shadow of his brother, as for the Duke with his marriage with the duchess which they are far from happy, but neither wants to accept it. It changes from one POV to another. But in the end we don’t hear much from the character that has the answers: the Shadow Master.

The setting seems to be Italy once again as the characters speak the language, but the time is not quite established. It appears that the world was devastated by the bubonic plague, but this plague has come and gone through its history.  The story tells of ancient science capable of great things but mechanic objects are mentioned as well. The time period is never clear; it can be years in the past or after our own time.

I did have trouble with the timeline. It was not difficult to follow it, but events taking place at the same time seemed to not be at that time at all. For example; an event that looked like it took three days to accomplish was in the same time span as one that took a day. It was confusing. Maybe because there was hardly a way to tell night from day.

I liked the cover, it looked like it would give the story away but at the same time not at all. The Walled city that appears in the cover reminded me of the Vatican City, another hint of Italy, only that there is no water near the Vatican.

There are a few amusing scenes, like the acolytes, which were not smart but they provided a few laughs in their scenes and on their last moments, Lucia also provided an amusing thought:

“Thank you. You have saved me.” The words came out in a stammer.

He looked back to her and he said, “I have saved you to be my bride. I have watched you from afar many times Lucia Lorraine, and imagined it. Leonardo will make you wings too and together we shall rule over this world.” She closed her eyes. Where was it written that she had to be incessantly kidnapped by crazed men? And she recalled the saying about beautiful women having to bear a greater burden in the madness of men than any burden that men ever bore in bearing the whims of a beautiful woman. She would write such aphorisms about men’s madness if only she survived this day, she resolved.”

The story does have several chapters but they turn out to be short. The plot might start a little boring but as it progresses you want to keep going just to find out how everything will be resolved. What I couldn’t understand was Lorenzo and Lucia’s butterflies, and the shadow master. Again, it’s time. The time span is what I can’t understand within the stories. The plot, I do, but the time, no. Craig Cormick has another book called Time Vandals, could it be that I need to first read that book to understand this one?

I recommend you to read The Shadow Master, a story that takes an adventure where love is the key for everything; happiness, justice, revenge, and always does what is better for the everyone. Read of a land lost to diseases and a battle for power where there is more than just two adversaries but much more hidden in the shadows.

What do you think of the Shadow Master? Comment and let us know.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*