Review by Kelly Jarvis: Shadowland by P.L. Hampton
Updated: Sep 12
Shadowland, by P.L Hampton, tells the riveting tale of Aaron Langford, a new University of Washington professor who has recently moved his family across the country to Seattle to conduct research on Sickle Cell Anemia, the disease that killed his grandmother and plagues his fourteen-year-old son. Aaron is haunted by the death of his parents who perished in a car accident when he has a child. Aaron, who was raised by his grandmother, Mother Dear, developed issues with guilt and OCD after the accident, and these mental health concerns resurface as the plot unfolds.
Shadowland begins with a quotation from a Yoruba Fable, and the book is full of folklore and spirituality from West Africa. Early in the novel, Aaron and his wife receive a divination tray from an estate sale as a housewarming gift. The tray is described as an African Oijui Board carved with strange symbols. The board seems to open a portal between the worlds, and odd things begin to happen; the family cat disappears, Aaron’s wife starts to see shadows in the house, and their children go missing. Aaron, still suffering from guilt over his parents’ death and worried he may have somehow caused harm to his children, contacts Urbi Houna, the board’s original owner. She is a Vondu priestess who will help him navigate the “shadowlands” that lie between this world and the next. The fate of Aaron’s children hangs in the balance.
Hampton provides readers with a fast-paced plot, plenty of mystery, and a deep cultural exploration of alternate spirituality. This was an interesting and entertaining read! You can find the book here.
Kelly Jarvis is the Special Projects Writer and Contributing Editor for The Fairy Tale Magazine. Her work has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer, Blue Heron Review, Forget-Me-Not Press, Mermaids Monthly, The Chamber Magazine, and Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers. She teaches at Central Connecticut State University.