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Shadow People    by James Swain order for
Shadow People
by James Swain
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Swain's Shadow People succeeds Dark Magic as the second in a series starring stage magician Peter Warlock, who gives regular shows at his private New York theater. But Peter has real magic abilities. He meets six other psychics (including young witch Holly) every Friday night. They predict dire happenings and warn authorities anonymously - one of their own, Nemo, was outed and is now a prisoner on an estate in Virginia.

In Dark Magic, Peter, who is in a strong relationship with his stage assistant Liza, was forced to tell her about his psychic talents. His keeping secrets from her almost destroyed their romance. Peter also learned that his parents were once members of the dark Order of Astrum (which orchestrated their deaths) and discovered a dark side to his own abilities. And he was forced to reveal some of what he can do to FBI agent Garrison, who promised to keep that information to himself.

Now, as Shadow People opens, Peter begins to see faceless ghosts, shadow people. In his weekly sťance with the other psychics he also sees (forward in time) a serial killer he names Dr. Death. But unlike previous journeys to the other side, this time his target knows he's there. Dr. Death claims to 'kill those who push back at the darkness' and almost obliterates Peter. Peter contacts Garrison with all he knows about the killer, who is already on the FBI's radar. He fears that Dr. Death has made a pact with one of the devil's sons, in exchange for special powers.

The shadow people continue to show up and to send Peter back to that same trap he barely survived the first time. Are they agents of Dr. Death? Disturbed by these events, Holly (who loves Peter) uses scrying to watch over him, against the wishes of the other psychics who are sure they must not interfere with his fate. People who knew Peter as a child are also involved, their motivation unclear. And Peter has to work hard to control the demon inside him - did he lose control when he was a little boy?

The story culminates in a demonic trap set for Peter Warlock. But fortunately he has help from some useful allies before he takes on 'a gargoyle on steroids' and is warned that 'Dante ... will ... kill you all ...' Guess we'll have to wait for the next episode to find out what Dante is up to. If you like supernatural mysteries with a strong vein of horror, you don't want to miss this series.

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