1980s puppet fantasy film manifests in real life in nostalgic fueled novel The Shadow Glass
Josh winner Shadow glass asks a big question on its cover, which Gizmodo reveals today (and which you can see in full below): “What if everything was real?” The “it” in this case is a fantasy world of puppets created by the main character’s father – reminiscent of The black crystal, Labyrinth, The never-ending story, and other beloved tales from the 1980s.
But to protagonist Jack’s surprise, the World of Film – a notorious box office bomb also titled The shadow glass – and its fanciful characters, including the heroic fox at the center of the story, are somehow… alive? And ready for a second act that could help restore Jack’s father’s legacy. Here is a full description of the story, followed by the cover and an excerpt from the novel.
Jack Corman fails in life.
Jobless, jaded and on the “bad” side of his thirties, he risks being evicted from his London apartment while he is shaken by the sudden death of his father, former director Bob Corman. In the 80s, Bob put his heart and soul into creating his 1986 puppet fantasy. Shadow glass, a movie that Jack loved as a kid, idolizing his fox-like hero, Dune.
Corn Shadow glass failed on release, deemed too scary for kids and too weird for adults, and Bob became a laughing stock, getting lost in alcohol and self-pity. Now the movie represents everything Jack hated about his father, and he lives with the fear of eventually failing like him.
Following Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying house, a place full of movie memories and painful memories. Then, during an abnormal thunderstorm, the attic puppets start talking. Embroiled in a desperate real-world quest to save London from his father’s most infamous of creations, Jack teams up with excitable fanboy Toby and Spiky Studio Director Amelia to navigate the maze of his father’s entire legacy. evoking the hero within – and igniting a Shadow Glass resurgence which could, finally, make the pride of his father.
Here’s a look at Julia Lloyd’s stunning cover, which debuts here on Gizmodo, followed by the exclusive preview.
The room was even more crowded than he remembered.
Trinkets and souvenirs littered the passage, giving the impression of a sordid antique store. A grandfather clock was surrounded by dry potted plants, while the Japanese Shadow Glass posters were hung on the walls. Shelf whines with VHS tapes, DVDs, Walkman and cassette library, and there were books everywhere. Feathered by age and crammed in the midst of swirling grains of dust.
Jack’s neck creaked as he turned his head to understand everything.
The trinkets were familiar but also different from the way he remembered them, as if he was looking at them through spotted glass. They looked run down. Relics from another time. A life he had almost forgotten he was leading. And that was just the room. From where he stood, he glimpsed the rooms and passageways beyond, threading their way in haphazard confusion, combining to form a house of puzzles. A place to get lost.
He froze, frowning at the far point where the back hallway turned into the kitchen. He was sure he had seen movement there. He pictured his father still wandering around Kettu House, tall and narrow as a telegraph pole, dragging slippers and a moth-eaten cardigan, fingers scratching his beard. He could still hear the whispers of a man who had long since let go of his grip on reality.
‘In a forgotten time, in a forgotten world, deep in a forgotten room that few people have ever seen, the Shadow Glass sees it all.’
Jack gritted his teeth and shook the image. It was years ago. Bob was dead and the house was empty, at least nothing alive. He couldn’t be distracted.
Aiming for the rickety staircase, he went further inside, his fingers tapping one of the bottles in a drinks cabinet. The sight brought back memories of Bob passed out in his desk chair, stale breath hanging over the room, and even though Jack wasn’t a drinker, his mouth was parched. He uncorked the bottle, took a sip on the way up the stairs. The whiskey burned the back of his throat.
“Jesu…” he coughed, then froze as a shadow passed through the wall.
He hasn’t moved.
He had only caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye, but he was sure he had lifted himself off the plinth and walked through the wallpaper.
Stiffly, he listened, feeling eyes on him.
The hairs on Jack’s arms stood on end and his gaze fell on the ceiling. He had heard something above him. A quiver of claws on the floor.
‘Hello?’ He called.
The house swallowed his voice. He wasn’t even sure he had spoken.
Apprehension pinched Jack’s chest. He had certainly heard it this time. A scratch above his head.
Someone was up there.
Other fanboys, perhaps, come to pick up the remnants of his father’s empire.
Maybe they were already in the attic claiming the thing he had pinned his whole future on.
Adrenaline flooded his veins and Jack made his way to a landing congested with Shadow Glass accessories; framed cinema cells and fake plants from another world that tangled between her feet. Above his head the scratching continued and Jack climbed another even narrower staircase which screamed as he went up.
He stopped in front of the attic door.
Of course, the sound was coming from there.
Over the rasp of his own wheezing, he heard it louder than before: scratching like nails inside a coffin. Her throat thickened with fear.
For a second, he was fifteen again, crouching in the stairwell as his father told him to go back to bed. Jack had woken up in the night and followed voices to the attic. He had listened through the door as they echoed in the dark, and he couldn’t tell if Bob was there watching a movie, or if Bob was doing the vocals himself. Maybe the newspapers and magazines were right. ‘Bonkers Bob’ had really lost his mind.
Crouching outside the attic now, twenty years later, Jack felt the darkness cling to his neck.
Was his father still in there?
He should run. Get out of there before it’s too late.
No. He shook off the memory. It wasn’t a teenage fantasy. Someone had broken in. They could run away with the very thing he was there to claim for himself.
He took the envelope out of his pocket, took out the key, and crushed it in the lock. Opening the door, he charged inside and––
His toe caught something in the dark and he lost his footing. He crashed forward, hitting the ground painfully as he collapsed in front. Somehow he managed to keep his head from cracking against the floor and found himself staring at a pair of gnarled claws resting on the floor in front of him.
He squeezed the miraculously intact whiskey bottle and craned his neck to the thing above him.
An amphibious creature with boiled green skin peered in the darkness. He looked stocky and slimy, his mouth too wide open to reveal scintillating rows of razor-sharp teeth. His bulbous eyes were heavy, empty, and staring eyelids, and while he looked like something that had slipped out of a swamp, he wore mechanized armor, the kind of sci-fi tech that seemed specially designed for it. deep space.
Jack’s heart slammed on the floor as he recognized the character.
Extract Shadow glass by Josh Winning reprinted with permission. Copyright Titan Books.
Josh winner Shadow glass releases March 22, 2022, but you can pre-order a copy here.