by Jonathan Carroll

The hero is a young writer with a tragic event in his childhood. He becomes financially independent when a story of his, turned into a drama by someone else, is a hit on the stage. He goes to live in Vienna and is taken up by a beautiful older couple. The tone is light, amusing, romantic and more or less realistic—until page 113, when the reader suddenly finds that something impossible is happening. Was guilt about what the hero did in his childhood beginning to drive him bonkers? Can the dead return to get revenge? What is going on? Carroll, who is a skillful storyteller and a polished writer, used the same scheme in his more original first novel, The Land of Laughs. At some point his apparently normal characters find themselves in a terrifying, violent and surreal world where the usual rules no longer apply. In Voice of Our Shadow, one of the characters is a fan of horror novelist Peter Straub, but Carroll is a better writer than Straub, more subtle and more consistent, almost logical in his fantasy effects and therefore much more chilling. (Viking, $13.50)