Title: From the Shadows
Author: Juan Jose Millas
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 208
TW: Child Sexual Abuse, Voyeurism, Adultery
Damien Lobo’s candid stories about his bizarre childhood and innermost thoughts have made him a much-sought after talk show sensation. The only problem is, the talk show whose audience can’t get enough of him exist merely in his head. In reality Damien is aimless, single, unemployed, and miserable.
One day his life irrevocably changes when he impulsively steals a small trinket at an antiques mall and hides in an old wardrobe to escape a pursuing security guard. Damien waits for everyone to clear out so he can escape from the wardrobe and go home but then a woman purchases the behemoth with him still hiding inside it. He ends up an unseen intruder in the home of the woman’s family, and even weirder than the situation is his reluctance to leave them.
I’d never heard of this book before and I’m thankful I just randomly ran across it at the library. From the Shadows is so weird but in such a cool way, and it’s probably one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time. Damien’s not a good man but part of me wanted to root for him anyway because of his childhood abuse and how painfully lonely he was. Like many people, Damien just wants to be seen, and the imaginary ‘talk show’ sequences were particularly interesting to me because I have a similar habit of having vivid one-way conversations in my head with people who aren’t there with me or don’t even exist.
The members of the family whose wardrobe Damien occupies felt very one-dimensional (mostly filling stereotypical roles) but strangely I didn’t consider it a flaw. It actually felt right in that it was consistent with the feel of the story. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that I felt the ending was way too abrupt. It felt like things got cut off prematurely right in the middle of the last scene and left me wondering what was going to happen. Otherwise I think this is a book more people should check out! I’ll be thrilled if any of this author’s other books end up being translated into English and become available for me to read.