Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Ian Woodhead’s “Shades of Green”

Shades of Green tells the story of a small town in England, Holburn, where the world has been turned upside down. A flashback to an experience two brothers had in the woods with more than one mysterious creature before the main story begins introduces us to this tale. After that, the sense of normality we see on the page lasts only a short while before we are exposed to people within the town becoming irrationally violent and several seemingly hallucinogenic trips or dreams intervening in the normal experiences of a few of the different key characters. Soon, it becomes clear that these trippy visions are actually the new state of affairs in Holburn, with a strange mix of science and magic boiling out of the ground and causing the populous to change, to morph into new biological creations. They are changing genetically, with strange creatures and demons being the results of the transitions. A few select people, including Damien and his girlfriend Jen, appear to be immune to these changes, or at least transitioning at a slower rate than everyone else, who are either being sacrificed to the evil forces at work or are working for them. The few survivors are the ones that must get to the bottom of this mystery, which unravels rapidly as the story surges toward its conclusion.

I liked the idea behind this story. It was a strange series of events that often left me puzzled, but intrigued enough to forge ahead to see what might happen next and what might happen at the end of the tale. In all honesty, I’m not sure I quite understood the explanations near the end, or what all happened along the way and the reasons behind them, but once again, this is a hallucinogenic, trippy tale that really would defy a simple explanation no matter how well I tried. The story is gore laced, gooey (a word I use because of the biological emphasis put on the reformation of both the human and animal elements of this town), and eerie, to say the least. I don’t want to spoil things for the readers, but I will say that this story shared elements of some of King’s works laced with a healthy dose of Lovecraftian flavor thrown in for good measure.

The issue I had with Shades of Green was with the editing. Now I will state very clearly that I am not a person who gets upset at typos and even a few contextual errors that show up. I expect that to occur with a self-published work. My belief is that if I can understand what the author was trying to say for the most part, I am good with that. With that said, I feel strongly that Shades of Green could have done with another editing run, because some of the errors left me confused as to the intention of the author at certain points in the book. The errors made this a more challenging read for me. Now this isn’t to say that I didn’t figure things out in the end, or throughout the story, but it slowed things down a bit. I will cite one example of the confusion I faced with the story, and it comes from the very first chapter: Damien and his brother Paul appear to be swapped in the first chapter. If this was the author’s intention as part of a dream sequence, it still left me puzzled and believing that after I had read the next few chapters that it was an error on his part: it was Paul who was having the vision from his past, or a dream, and not Damien. Then again, perhaps that was the author’s intention: to confuse the issue, because that would go along with the rest of the trippy nature of the story. Even so, another editing run through this book would serve it tremendously.

Overall, I enjoyed the concept of this book and I think the author has some wild and disturbing ideas. The editing was where it stumbled for me, but given that this is Ian Woodhead’s first book, I think he has a promising future in writing ahead of him.

Shades of Green can be found at:  http://www.amazon.com/Shades-of-Green-ebook/dp/B004E10WCC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296155046&sr=8-1

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