Shadowmagic by John Lenahan

9/10 A cross between Time Bandits and Thomas Covenant.

A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different.

Shadowmagic tells the tale of Connor an ordinary teenager, or so he thinks. Connor has a one handed father who is well versed in ancient languages and a bit eccentric. One day a knock is heard on the front door and two Celtic warriors on horseback try to kill Connor...... and so begins this adventure to the land of Tir Na Nog. Connor soon joins forces with an imp, a banshee and a princess as he faces an evil Uncle.

The book starts at a fast pace and you are thrown into the action before you have put down your coffee. The writing is easy to comprehend and you are quickly immersed into this world of Tir Na Nog, known informally as the ‘land’. There are some strong and recognisable characters in the book with a limited depth, but more than enough to carry you through the short book. The tale is told in the first person by Connor. Whilst I am a fan of this technique, I initially found Connor a little bit cocky and blasé about his whole experience and the total absurdity of it all. I must admit it took me half of the book to warm to Connor but towards the second half I was beginning to understand him a bit more. Connor has a way of treating life as a joke, which I guess is a coping mechanism and nothing more. I would not say I found the humour overly funny but it certainly made me smile a lot.

It is a condensed tale and everything seems to happen at a frenetic pace. There is always tension built at the end of a chapter and this just rolls over to the next chapter. It took me a few hours to read it and while I enjoyed it a lot I would have liked a little more meat and bones to the whole thing. It felt like reading the Lord of the Rings in sixty seconds. Although being a young adult book this style would work perfectly in that scenario. A young person would pick it up and not be daunted by its size. I am not sure of the author’s intention but to my mind it felt almost a quick parody of the genre and poked gentle fun at fantasy.

In conclusion it is a highly enjoyable novel that will appeal to youngsters and adults alike and will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson and the Skullduggery Pleasant series. It has strong roots in Irish mythology and features an interesting magic system. The book is left open to expand the world of Connor and Tir Na Nog. It provides us with strong friendships and a blossoming love story. It reminded me of a cross between the Terry Gilliam film ‘Time Bandits’ and the books of the ‘Thomas Covenant’ series. If you want a quick read in between some of the heavier novels out there then I would wholely recommend this fun little novel and I would certainly recommend it to the younger reader.

Review by

7 positive reader review(s) for Shadowmagic


Shadowmagic reader reviews

from Canada

I love all the Shadowmagic books and I will most certainly be buying hard copies and reading them to my daughter! Please write more! Such fun magical reads that make you love Irish folklore and trees! Thank you.

from USA

Mark Twain would be proud! I can't say enough about the storytelling. It is compelling, engaging, and has real flair. The character development is believable, and the story arch is pleasantly surreal (not too logical, not too irrational--but just crazy enough to be"stranger than fiction"). If Harper-Collins could get this Trilogy into the schools of America (like Scholastic does) it would be a best-seller.

from Sanan à

To be honest with you this the most inspiring book I ever read. At first it was just a normal book on the shelf but when I started reading i didn't want to stop. I loved the beginning when he met his aunt. I did find the ending very sad because of what happend to Fergal. Best book ever. Loved it.

from UK

I am a huge Tolkien fan so began this reading adventure with some scepticism. However, I absolutely loved the trilogy & just wish Mr Lenahan would write some more. Excellent stuff.

from USA

I loved this story. It was captivating and at every turn I was there at Connors side in Tir Na Nog. I was very satisfied by this story. Thank you.

from Brooklyn, NY

I just adored this book. I listened to the audio version and bought both books as well. Seriously, people, read these books! They will take you to a place you wished you'd thought of yourself!!

from London

Just wanted to Thanks Alan for your kind words about Shadowmagic and to let you know that book 2 The Prince of Hazel & Oak is out now. Sorry about giving myself 10 stars but there was no way not to vote and what else am I supposed to do?

from Alabama

Thought it was great! waiting for more from this author.

9.3/10 from 9 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

Night Watch

Terry Pratchett

The Princess Bride

William Goldman

Son of a Liche

J Zachary Pike

The Screaming Staircase

Jonathan Stroud

100 Miles and Vampin

C T Phipps


Terry Pratchett


Yahtzee Croshaw

Following reviews

The Talisman: Road of Trials

Stephen King

The Nemesis List

RJ Frith

Lost in Plain Sight

David Gerard

The Well of Ascension

Brandon Sanderson


Brandon Sanderson

The Stormlight Archive

Brandon Sanderson

Dragonfly Falling

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shadows of the Apt

Adrian Tchaikovsky