If you haven’t realized by now, I’m a huge Ray Bradbury fangirl. For evidence, please see my reviews of Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man. So when the lovely ladies of TLC Book Tours brought my attention to this must read, I snatched it up as quickly as possible. And you should too!
Shadow Show was completed before Bradbury’s death and is a collection of 26 stories by some of today’s hottest authors – Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Audrey Niffenegger, Dave Eggers, and Alice Hoffman to name a few. I know without a doubt that Bradbury lovers will find some amazing stories to treasure and take pleasure in the knowledge that Bradbury himself has been so amazingly loved and respected. For those who haven’t acquainted themselves with the Master (and really, what is wrong with you?), these stories are so delightfully constructed by such talented authors that you really can’t afford not to read them!
I know many readers are often wary of the short story form, especially in large anthologies, but that’s where I think Shadow Show really shines. First, each story feels fresh and new since they are penned by different authors. If one author’s tale doesn’t float your boat, you have a new writer awaiting you just a few pages away. I never felt bogged down or like I was reading the same thing over and over again. Each story is influenced by Ray in different ways – some tales relate to a specific Bradbury story, some to a particular emotion, theme, or genre Bradbury perfected (yes, I think his writing is pretty darn close to perfect), and others act as love stories to the man himself. I wanted to read Bradbury’s entire oeuvre all over again.
As for the individual stories themselves, they run the entire human emotional gamut from cheeky comedy to desolate sadness. They are science fiction tales with fantastical twists or stories of bleak realism with creepy slants, but they are all very human stories. I only encountered 2 or 3 that felt like duds – one was confusing and hard to follow, another a bit too long, and the final dud just felt a bit too self-indulgent and not in the spirit of a proper tribute. Every other story impressed me and was super fun to read. And at the end of each story, the author writes a little background information – how their story came to be, how Ray influenced them, or personal anecdotes about their relationship with Bradbury. These blurbs were perhaps even better than the stories!
What I liked most about Shadow Show is that nothing felt morose or ‘in memoriam’ in light of Bradbury’s recent death. The stories seemed more like a thank you to someone who has gotten these authors where they are today, filled with sincere gratitude to a father figure who over the decades never lost his hero shine. He truly was an amazing gift to literature and humanity.
Some favorite moments more well-spoken than I could possibly manage:
“Because, perhaps, if this works, they will remember him. All of them will remember him. His name will once more become synonymous with small American towns at Halloween, when the leaves skitter across the sidewalk like frightened birds, or with Mars, or with love.” – From “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury” by Neil Gaiman
“If I’d been moved before, now I was undone. Ray Bradbury’s writing is sentimental in the sense that Steinbeck’s is, but it’s never syrupy. It’s simply the iteration of honest human emotions we can neither outrun or deny.” – Jacquelyn Mitchard
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for the copy of Shadow Show in exchange for my honest review! Check out the rest of the tour here!