Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: "The Color of Light" by Helen Maryles Shankman

Title: The Color of Light
AuthorHelen Maryles Shankman
Publisher: Stony Creek Press
Date of Publication: October 31, 2013
Pages: 575

How I Heard About It:I'm reviewing "The Color of Light" as part of the book's extended tour, hosted by TLC Book Tours. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!

Two Sentence Summary: It's the early nineties at the American Academy of Art, a school known for its unique adherence and reverence towards all things classical. When a simple sketch by art student Tessa piques the interest of Rafe (the handsome, Byronic head of the school) for reasons rooted in his past, the book takes a exciting turns for both the historical and the fantastic in equal measure.

"When I'm asleep, dreaming drowsed and warm,
They come, the homeless ones, the noiseless dead.
While the dim and charging breakers of the storm
Rumble and drone and bellow overhead,
Out of the gloom they gather about my bed.
They whisper to my heart; their thoughts are mine.
-Siegfried Sassoon"

Things I Think: "Atmospheric" is the word dying to come out of my mouth every time I think or talk about this book. Shankman has placed "The Color of Light" in the familiar cross-section of an elite art scene and a community's menacing underbelly, but the stunning creativity with which she's infused the plot make neither of these things feel rote. 

From the gorgeous descriptions of the school ("white-washed walls thirty feet soar[ing] from ceiling to floor...moveable white walls and white drapes... dozens of fluorescent lamps tricked out with reflectors..." to the invocation of two distinct eras (the early 90s in New York City, as well as the Holocaust, the book carries a tangible feeling of suspense (one my mind associates with both the isolation and yearning of autumn). 

I'm usually a "characters" girl, so it feels strange/new to be this obsessively impressed by a general ambiance. That's not to say that the characters aren't riveting as well. Again, Shankman pushes against a potentially rusty trope of current fiction (vampires) and infuses it with an element of legitimate historicism that makes the topic compelling (HA!).

This would be a fun read for the holidays. Despite the epic page count, it's easy to fly through and definitely entertaining.