[Note: This is neither a book review nor a book summary, but rather an overview of some of the elements and themes found in Shadowmancer that may be of interest to those visiting this site and to those who are wondering about this book being called the "Christian Harry Potter." The edition read and used for this article is a paperback published in London by Faber and Faber Limited, 2003, ISBN 0-571-22046-0.]
"Firstly Shadowmancer is NOT a Christian book." G. P. Taylor
"It's not a Christian book, I refuse to have it called that." G. P. Taylor
"I didn't set out to write a Christian book, and it's not a Christian book, it's a book that deals with eternal images of faith." G. P. Taylor
"With an initial U.S. printing of 250,000, reorders for 65,000 and movie rights already sold for nearly $6 million, Penguin hopes Shadowmancer will be its first blockbuster crossover." Quote from Daily Record, 4/27/04, http://www.dailyrecord.com/morrislife/morrislife11-shadow.htm
Shadowmancer, called the "Christian Harry Potter" in numerous media reports, was written by a vicar in Yorkshire, England, G. P. Taylor. Taylor, who describes himself as an "orthodox Anglo Catholic" (interview with Daily Record, July 3, 2003 at http://www.surefish.co.uk/culture/features/030703_gp_taylor_interview.htm ), adamantly claims that his book is not Christian (see Addendum to this article at the end). Three children, Raphah (a mysterious figure who appears in the story without a clear explanation of who he is), Kate, and Thomas, along with an adult smuggler, Jacob Crane, seek to stop Vicar Obadiah Demurral from his attempts through sorcery to control the world with powers he is summoning in various ways. There is an object called a Keruvim (which seems to be the cherubim figure of the Tabernacle from Exodus 25) that Demurral has stolen for its power, an object Raphah's family has guarded (pages 76, 208). A God/Christ figure named Riathamus and an evil Satan figure named Pyratheon are woven into the story, which is set in the 18th century.
Though criss-crossed with Christian references, many of them rather ambiguous, the book presents a vague Christianity more as part of superstition and animism rather than as something set apart from occult magick and powers. Rather than the world of an omnipotent God, this book provides several incidents that evoke dualism, and a belief that God can be defeated by evil. Additionally, there is a very subjective spirituality present in the books with no clear-cut message about who Jesus is or what He did on the cross, though there are hazy and confusing references to it.
In chapter five, Thomas, one of the main characters, dreams of finding himself inside a stone chamber before a golden altar. He hears what seem to be angels singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" and a voice in his head urges him to "wake up" (50-51). Raphah also uses this phrase, "wake up" later in the book to a woman reading cards for divination, telling her to "rise from the dead," though Christ is never mentioned to her (116). Though Jesus urged people to believe on Him, it is clear from the Bible that salvation is done through faith, and the term "wake up," especially apart from any mention of Christ, is not an equivalent to having faith.
ThThomas encounters a man in this dream who tells him not to fear and that he can be forgiven. When Thomas looks into this man's eyes, he sees they are "the eyes of the cross" (52). This is the only specific mention of the cross in the book, aside from a reference at the end by Pyratheon, the Satan figure, to "the victory on the tree" (297). When Thomas asks the man in the dream who he is, the man replies, "I am a king. Have you not heard of me? Don't you know my voice?" The man continues, "All you have to do is believe in me. Thomas, I can be your king," and later he tells him that he has known Thomas since he was "knitted together in his mother's womb" (52-53).