Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti K. Tyler (pub date 5/1/12)
“Actions could be decided, people could be corrupted, but faith is the only thing left that could remain pure no matter what trials it endured.”
Heroes can come from anywhere, and they are often born out of unusual and sometimes tragic circumstances. Although in order to be a hero for others, they must first rise above their own fears and shortcomings. In this novel by indie author Pavarti K. Tyler, a young Muslim man faces his own demons in order to fight corruption in his home city.
Shadow on the Wall is the first installment in The SandStorm Chronicles, a new series about a Muslim superhero who battles the brutality of an organization called the RTK. The RTK is a corrupt group who wish to impose Muslim fundamentalist law in Turkey. Operating with the support of the mayor of the city of Elih, the RTK act as “morality police,” spreading terror and arresting people for any perceived infraction.
In this book we are introduced to Recai Osman, the privileged son of deceased billionaire parents. After being forced to witness an act of extreme cruelty committed by the RTK, Recai retreats from the world and goes on a journey of self-discovery. Recai comes to terms with his own failure to act on that terrible day, and returns to Elih to assume control of his family’s corporation and fortune. Then with the help of his friend Maryam and pseudo father figure Hasad, Recai becomes The SandStorm and vows to bring down the evil powers that be.
In short, Shadow on the Wall is a new spin on the Batman mythos, though it is not a graphic novel and is also not suitable for children. But Tyler did more than just write a new Batman story. She made it her own, and took a risk by writing about a controversial topic like Muslim fundamentalism. This story could have been set anywhere in the world, but Tyler dared to set the story in Turkey and use Muslim characters, even though she is not Turkish or Muslim.
This is an ambitious and very unique story. It tackles some very heavy themes, including faith, honor, and the treatment of women. Tyler does not consider this to be a feminist novel, but there are prominent female characters in the story, each with her own opinion of Islam and of wearing the traditional headscarf and veil. Maryam sees her coverings as a comfort and protection, while the power-hungry Darya sees them as tools of subjugation. The issues regarding women in Islam were what I enjoyed most about this book.
It’s a solid story with interesting characters, though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you enjoy stories that challenge the way think and how you see other religions and cultures, then give Shadow on the Wall a try. And don’t worry if you think you don’t know enough about Islam to understand it; there is a glossary in the back of the book that explains some of the more obscure words and phrases.
Shadow on the Wall was nominated for several awards, and won the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award for general fiction. It’s great that in an industry dominated by about only six publishing conglomerates, indie authors are still finding their voice and receiving recognition. I’m psyched to find out what happens in Book Two of The SandStorm Chronicles!