Title:  "Shadowmancer"
Author:  G.P. Taylor
Publisher:  Charisma House

Superstition, deceit, witchcraft, folklore, good and evil mix it up in "Shadowmancer," the debut novel of G.P. Taylor. Taylor's goal was to create an exciting tale that incorporates all the elements of fantasy, and at the same time draws a clear line between good and evil. That clear line is something he saw missing in the mega-hit Harry Potter series.

Taylor believed he could craft a suspenseful and intriguing plot that depended on a strong Christian moral base. His readers apparently think he succeeded. Many of them cite "Shadowmancer" as a desirable alternative to the Harry Potter series.

Even secular media recognize the contrast between Potter and Thomas Barrick, Taylor's young hero in "Shadowmancer." For example, Newsweek magazine wrote, "It goes where 'Potter' didn't, tapping into spiritual themes that credit God as the force of all good."

Taylor, an Anglican vicar, has said, "As a committed evangelical Christian with over 20 years experience of ministering to people ensnared in the occult, I have been overwhelmed by the way in which the book has been used to reach our young people who have been de-sensitized to the occult."

The author's colorful personal history includes not only the ministry, but also working in law enforcement and the music industry. He sold his motorcycle to fund the self-published "Shadowmancer." He had no dreams that the novel would find such wide success. Word-of-mouth publicity quickly led to its republishing by Faber and Faber and its 2004 best-seller status in England.

"Shadowmancer" reflects the classic struggle between good and evil. Obadiah Demurral, a British clergyman in the 1700s, is the kind of villain any reader loves to hate. While preaching sacrifice and restraint to his parishioners, Demurral practices sorcery and deceit. His goal is to control the universe, a feat he thinks he will accomplish if he can retain possession of the Keruvim, a mysterious religious relic he has stolen.

Demurral's duplicitous character is revealed early in how he treats Beadle, a frightened little man and servant of the wayward clergyman. For example, Taylor writes: "Demurral took Beadle by the collar and lifted him to his feet, dragging him down the path towards the sea. Beadle could not refuse. He had been servant to the Vicar of Thorpe for twenty years .... People said he was lucky -- stunted, one leg withered, he was not much use to anybody. Demurral was a harsh master: he had a harsh tongue and an even harsher hand."

The novel's heroes are 13-year-old Barrick and his friend Kate Coglan. Raphah, a mysterious African, is their surprising ally. Thomas senses better than any of Demurral's flock that the clergyman is a fraud and Thomas would do anything in his power to expose his hypocrisy. Raphah brings to the table a knowledge of the origin and value of the Keruvim. The relic belongs to his people, and he knows that it can be deadly in the wrong hands. As they set out to outsmart and defeat Demurral, the adventuresome trio reflects the idealism and clear sense of right and wrong often found in youth.

"Shadowmancer" is published in the U.S. by Charisma House and is still going strong. It is billed as a youth/teen novel, but it is an engaging story and a rewarding read for all ages.


Randall Murphree, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is editor of AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association.

© 2004 AgapePress.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.