I was very interested in reading about Pat S. Clarke’s mute Brazilian protagonist and her quest for vengeance in The Silent Shadow. I have enduring interests in differently abled protagonists and in fiction that takes place in Brazil though I haven't reviewed books dealing with these themes recently. See my review of a book that takes place at a deaf school at Innocents of Oppression Review. You can also read my review of a romantic eco-thriller taking place in Brazil at Amazon Burning Review. I expected to love The Silent Shadow. That's why I purchased it from Amazon, and reviewed it for Bookplex.
I liked the sense of place in The Silent Shadow. One example is the inclusion of sandstorms in the Amazon. This brings home to readers that vast expanses of jungle once rich in plant and animal species have been radically transformed by deforestation. When I ran a search about these sandstorms in Brazil, I encountered No Rain in the Amazon on Google Books. I will definitely want to check out this volume further. I also knew little of the Amazon Gold Rush. This book inspired me to research its continuing impact on Brazil and its people.
I thought that mute Adelia’s communication issues were well-handled for the most part, but I was skeptical about conveying an abstract phrase like “looking for a job” in gestures that would be widely understandable among those who use spoken language. I ran a search on Brazilian sign language and found the Wikipedia article. It's known as Libras in Portuguese which stands for Língua Brasileira de Sinais. Libras is related to American Sign Language (ASL) because both are based on French Sign Language.
The plot was appropriately fast paced, but I wondered at first why a woman who wanted to conceal and disguise herself was acting in a manner which drew attention. This seemed foolish. Yet in the long run she brought herself to the attention of allies as well as enemies. Adelia was very fortunate, but there were times when I questioned her judgment. I also disliked the villain’s stereotypical portrayal and a few predictable plot tropes.
There were noticeable problems with both formatting and copy editing. The intermittent improper division of paragraphs was disconcerting. At one point, the identification of who was speaking was separated from the dialogue which confused the speakers. I found fifteen spelling and grammar errors. There was one run on sentence late in the book that also contained two spelling errors. I realize that this is Clarke’s first novel. Yet when a book is offered for sale, readers have a right to expect professional editing.
I really hoped to enjoy this book more than I did. The author had a great idea and a fabulous protagonist, but the book had some flaws that limited my initial enthusiasm.