Friday, September 10, 2021

Heavy Metal Fiction with Amanda Berthault


Shadows Unveiled by Amanda Berthault
EdenEcho Publishing, Chicago, IL, August 10, 2021
Electronic, Print, 229 pp.

About the Book
Heavy metal singer Shadow McKinley has faked his death to leave behind what he considers a torturous life. While disguised under his new identity as Shanley, a traveling pool hustler, he meets Macy, a teenage runaway and fan of his former band. Her plan to find her father in Los Angeles has fallen apart, and together they begin a cross-country road trip to get there. But Shanley makes one huge mistake, and their adventure turns into a desperate escape from the police and a struggle to stay alive. And with Macy unknowingly tormenting him with flashes of his past, Shanley must fight to keep his secret—not only from her, but from a world that is determined to find him. 

My review:
Shanley, a mysterious pool hustler, arrives in Kansas with little more than a truck to live in, dwindling cash in his pocket, and a need to earn money yet stay on the move.

The drama escalates when a young girl, obviously alone and defenseless, arrives in town wearing a t-shirt that means trouble to Shanley.

This contemporary action adventure opens with a noir feeling as Shanley’s favored costume is a black fedora and sunglasses worn at all times. As we peel back the layers of secrets, we’re drawn into a life on the run. Shanley and Macy are engaging people, lovingly drawn and wholly engaging. Who couldn’t cheer them on as Shanley reluctantly agrees to help young Macy travel across country? Their innocent adventure turns harrowing as they encounter the underside of humanity.

Shanley and Macy come from deeply flawed backgrounds and fight for survival after emotional and physical abuse. Shadows Unveiled shows the reader through narrow points of view and flashbacks how each of them learns to take the best of themselves to work together to accomplish a common goal and face the consequences of their actions.

Ultimately a story of survival and friendship, Berthault, a native Chicagoan with a passion for music, offers a novel that will start serious conversations about how we listen to each other and care about ourselves and our friends. I appreciated the reality of hearing how it sounds when I think I’m offering helpful advice. Plumbing the depth of someone else’s pain, letting them speak their story and not pushing them deeper into an inability to cope by sharing platitudes and empty shoulders isn’t true support. Shanley is able to turn his experience around and do something that helps teenage Macy, whose outside life seems idyllic, as much as his own is obviously dysfunctional. And maybe Heavy Metal Fiction will become a shelf label. I was intrigued by the way Berthault’s characters were so deeply affected by the music and lyrics in different ways. Shadows Unveiled is the first book in a planned trilogy and I look forward to reading more.

About the Author:

Amanda Berthault is an author, editor, and music lover who wants to make “Heavy Metal Fiction” a real genre. She has a BA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago and has had multiple musically themed short stories published over the past two decades. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she runs a freelance editing business helping other independent and self-publishing authors.

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