“The Last Shadow” by J.D. Robinson- An SPSFC review

As a judge for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), I’m reading and reviewing all of the semi-finalists! Check out my SPSFC Hub for all my posts and reviews for the contest.

The Last Shadow by J.D. Robinson

Boston in 1990s has some weird stuff going on. Bas Milius gets in a ring fight and loses… a cherished ring. Then, he accepts a PI case that leads him down some strange trails. Dee is a nonverbal autistic teen with some strange abilities thrust into a wider world. There’s also a reclusive couple who are doing some weird–possibly cultish–things with people and monitoring them. What’s going on with that?

The central hook is a mystery that keeps growing throughout the novel as more and more odd things keep happening. Readers are kept in the dark for quite a while with only tantalizing clues to go off. The characters are what needs to keep readers involved in these central sections, which can occasionally feel bloated. For my part, I’d have liked the mystery to move on at a faster clip. While I enjoyed the reveals getting doled out, I think the speed of it could have moved up a bit.

Again, the characters have to sustain this middle section, and they do an okay job depending on readers’ preferences. Bas has some real character growth, though readers who aren’t fans of the kind of stereotypical tough guy private investigator in SFF will perhaps not enjoy the tropey nature as much. Dee also experiences quite a bit of growth, and it’s great having a neurodivergent character feature so prominently.

The Last Shadow has a great hook and good characters. It might need some editing down, but it has enough story of interest to keep readers going. Fans of urban fantasy and mysterious sci-fi should check it out.

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