NOMINATED FOR THE BSFA AWARDS 2017.
“One day I will be too old for the shadows. What kind of monster will I be then?”
One minute Andrew Pryde is in a library, reading; the next, he's staring at the body of a young girl lying between the bookshelves, with a policewoman standing over him. In the blink of an eye, his world has unravelled.
In his desperate quest to clear his name, he’ll have to suspend all disbelief. And who exactly is Ronald Gibbs, the nerdy youth with a dark twist, who seems to hold so many answers to the mystery? Could this strange man, who spends his days on Internet chatrooms trying to prove the existence of magic and other worlds, somehow be involved in the girl’s death?
All the while, Andrew is plagued by disturbing visions and nightmares. As the police close in, the two men are forced to band together to seek the truth about strange disappearances, portals, and the occult. Can they find the murderer and rescue a girl who’s already dead?
An engrossing fantasy mystery, bursting with magic and intrigue." Edward Cox
“Stroud has a rare way with words that really engages and disarms the reader.” SFBook
5* "I don’t suppose I could write about something else? No? Y’see, the thing is, I went into this book cold. Didn’t really know much about it. I thought it looked a bit occult detectivey, and I’m quite into that sub-genre at the moment, so that’s what drew me in. Is it an occult detective novel? Not really: ok, it does have some police officers investigating a very strange murder. The main protagonist, Doctor Andrew Pryde has the misfortune to have been sitting in the reference library with his nose in a book, when a corpse turns up. First he knows about it is when he looks up and notices the police. Obviously they suspect him, so he has to investigate to clear himself.Then there’s this scruffy, loner type, Ronald Gibbs. He’s investigating a series of missing people, all involving books. He has a group of like-minded types he talks to on the internet. Once they’ve finished confronting each other with knives, Ronald needs to convince Andrew that his problem is connected. Then it all starts to get a bit complicated.Is that enough? Could you not just go read the book on my recommendation? Trust me, too many spoilers will just detract from your potential enjoyment.All right, dammit, I’ll tell you just a little more. It involves alternate universes, and sacrifices and magic—or is that science we don’t understand yet? Damned if I know. It really is very complex. I’m not even sure that it’s just a coincidence that Stroud opens his forward with a quote from Arthur C. Clarke, even if it isn’t the one about magic and science. There’s stuff hidden in the text of books, powerful stuff. There are also gods—or are they just people we don’t understand yet? I have no clue.I suppose you’ could call it a police procedural, crossed with a fantasy novel. I don’t know why you’d want to, but if you feel the need you could. I detected a few possible influences. Neil Gaiman for one—and even a touch of Douglas Adams, albeit it’s not a comedy.Do I have any criticisms? Well, for one thing the story is hardly over—I already told you it’s complex. It left me with far too many questions that I need answering. I suspect I may well have to reread this one before reading any follow-up. There had bloody well better be a sequel! I know where you live, Allen Stroud—ok, I don’t but I can find out. Now stop bugging me, people, and go read the damn book!" David L Brzeski on Amazon.co.uk
5✩: "I read the book in a heartbeat. Although it is an urban fantasy, it is also a bit of a thriller, as it reads like a detective story.
Without spoiling the fun, the story opens with a murder and it has the traits of a very good 'whodunnit' plot. And just when you think you are in a recognisable world, the fantasy kicks in to take you somewhere else, literally. Stroud has a lot of writing time under his belt, and he is an established game writer (Chaos: Elite); I knew this book would show his skills and it has not disappointed me." By Trixter 76 on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com