A former pirate faces mobsters and magic in 1950s Neverland.
Basil Stark isn’t the man he once was. A reformed pirate and private detective, he walks the line between criminal and hero, living in the corners of what was once the island of Neverland, its magic slowly fading into the new world of the 1950s. But when a routine missing-persons case turns into a murder investigation, Basil finds himself pulled into a tale of organized crime, murder, unstitched shadows and dangerous espionage. With only a handful of fellow outcasts and a stubborn determination to bring a killer to justice, will he survive the many people who want him dead?
Book Review Rating: 5/5 stars
Cover Review Rating: 3/5 stars
I’m a sucker for artistic cover art, and when I saw SHADOW STITCHER’S cover I adored it right away. This would be an easy cover review, but alas, I find myself torn. Why?
Let’s step into my mind.
First and foremost, why is there no color? I do love monotone artworks, but for a cover, there must be more push and pull. Dark to lights. Now, this could be done without color in the artwork, but still there needs to be more pop.
Why not change the coloring of the title, use a secondary font for the title or author name rather than the same? Why not use the whole cover art image rather than setting it in a tiny frame in the center of the cover?
My last point really bothers me because the cover art is beyond fabulous and could have occupied the whole cover. Darken over a few areas on the city making the contrast more dramatic, threading the author’s name and title into the artwork seamlessly. I get the cover appearing like an old poster, but given the main character’s avoidance of having attention, the poster bit doesn’t quite work.
According to the publisher, SHADOW STITCHERS is classified as a fantasy, contemporary, noir, action & adventure, and a pirate investigation. The cover reads investigation for sure. The setting of time it takes place could stretch for contemporary, but I’d rather pin it in historical given the 50’s time frame. The other genre classifications than the fairy for fantasy is lost.
Give me the tension, small pops of color to set off important elements, and to take the cover art out of the boxed frame. Due to the lack of tension, contrast, and non-dynamic font usage/coloring, I would’ve scrolled past this cover in a line up of other types in the genre classifications.
It really irks me to even admit that notion above after reading Misha’s incredible masterpiece and the cover artist’s incredible skill. The cover could have been targeted better for the market if some of the areas noted were addressed, however, this lies with the final person who pulled the cover design together.
In the end, the cover misses the intended market, but the cover art is sublime. I rated the cover 3 stars solely on the skill of the cover art. The application of the design that used the artwork leaves more to be desired.
“Basil Stark isn’t the man he once was. A reformed pirate and private detective, he walks the line between criminal and hero, living in the corners of what was once the island of Neverland, its magic slowly fading into the new world of the 1950s.”
So I’m not one who gets on the bandwagon with Neverland retellings. I always loved the original story and Robin Williams Pan version. A few years ago, though, a certain retelling my daughter loved changed my mind. With that said, I am still skeptical of how well a spin-off or retelling is achieved when it comes to the Pan world.
We start with the main character Basil, Captian Hooks’s first mate who survived the final battles of Neverland. He’s a private investigator fresh on the trail of a missing mistress case, at the request of her lover, however, this is only the first of many layers. The introduction and development of sub-characters rounds out each step one takes into SHADOW STITCHERS leaving no room for questions or assumed outcomes on where the story may lead. Not to mention, how the tales of Neverland are reinterpreted and applied throughout is quite genius.
I mean come on, a shadow that (… I’m not spoiling that for you).
The richness of character development… let me repeat this… THE RICHNESS OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, deep pov, pacing, world-building, and plotline within SHADOW STITCHERS compares to some of my best fantasy combo reads. Well, minus the darker side.
Now, I am a dark reading lover, and even though the publisher classified SHADOW STITCHERS as a Noir, I have to disagree. Probably one of the cleaner reads I’ve had this year other than a middle grade I read. So though it’s not classified for ya (more so due to the age of the characters), I think upper ya readers who love investigation fantasy stories would enjoy SHADOW STITCHERS.
Yes, it has some darker interpretations like crime organizations or drinking or bars, but not anything close to blood or gore or trigger violence or sex scenes. I craved a bit more grit at times just cause that’s me and my ways and reflects nothing on the story. And if I had to pick at one more aspect, then it would be the prologue. Whack it out. It didn’t add anything to the main storyline, nor answer any questions that weren’t already addressed within the novel.
I won’t base my score on those preferences on my part. 5/5 stars! It took me a bit longer than I wanted to catch up to this TBR and complete my review, but I’m glad I took the time to marinate in Misha’s superb storytelling skills.
I received an eARC of SHADOW STITCHERS by Misha Handman in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review.
Let’s be honest here. If it was great or sucked, I have no problem writing it out.
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A special thank you to Misha for entering my OPEN CALL a few months ago. It means the world to me to read your work and to find another author to keep an eye on. I look forward to more stories with Basil and his crew and the interpretations of Everland that follow!
MOTHER COVER LOVER OUT!