The small Italian neighborhood in SoHo appears to be like every other neighborhood. It has shops, gossip, and everyone knows everyone. The only thing different about this neighborhood is the warnings from the older residents to stay away from the old foundry because a witch lives there. For Tommy Santalesa, the neighborhood is his playground. He works, flirts with every girl he sees, smokes spot with his friends every day, and plays in a band. When his best friend Frank goes missing near the foundry and then comes back alive but without a pulse, Tommy must head to the foundry to save his friend or die trying.
In the Shadow of St. Anthony is the first novel by author Andrew Hernon and it is a great debut. This is not a typical paranormal or urban fantasy novel in that the focus for most of the book is not on the witch in the foundry but on Tommy himself. It’s about Tommy and his journey from smart-aleck charmer to a man. At the start of the book, Tommy is a legend in his own mind and has no trouble getting what he wants as long as what he wants isn’t real or meaningful. He wastes his days with his friends, having no real direction or sense of purpose. Two things start to put him on the right track: a talking-to from his dream girl, Anne-Marie and finding a sense of purpose in saving Frank. Tommy then finally starts his process of becoming the person he should have been all along.
Outside of Tommy’s journey, the author sets a wonderfully creepy tone for the old foundry and the entity that resides in it. The reader can feel the sense of danger and foreboding throughout the book. The author also successfully creates individual characters that are complex and feel real. By the end of the book, the reader feels that they know them intimately. In the Shadow of St. Anthony is a wonderful novel. It will be interesting to see what Andrew Hernon gives us in the future.
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