Review: Sable Shadow and The Presence

The following review by ‘Kitty Book Lover’ was recently published on

William Peace has done it again.  His latest book, Sable Shadow and The Presence, which has already won several awards,  combines a clever plot with thought provoking discussions on good and evil, the contradictions and complexities of life, and the meaning of relationships.  The book is written by the main character, Henry Lawson,  in autobiographical form.  It is difficult to sustain the first person voice and not have the reader tire of it, but Mr. Peace has managed to make the story interesting, readable, and anything but tiring.  We meet Henry’s parents, learn about  their individual personalities and the way their relationship develops over a long marriage and his very likeable, but different from him, sister, who is also his friend.  His grandfather and uncles seem to Henry to be more successful than his father and Henry admires them, while not yet understanding his father or his motivations. As he matures, he grows in his understanding of his mother and his father is able to help them through this crisis in their marriage.  We follow Henry through college, his success in business, his marriage to a woman he deeply loves. There are some wonderful vignettes describing the world of office politics and what some people do to get ahead.  Everything seems to be going just the way Henry has planned until a tragic fire in a plant in Mexico that he technically supervises results in the deaths of many people.  Sentenced to jail in Mexico, his career over, he begins to think about what is really important in life and when he is released, turns his life in a completely different direction.
Mr. Lawson explains in the first chapter what the title means.  Sable Shadow and the Presence are two voices that Henry begins to hear as a child.  Lest you think that Henry is just some closet schizophrenic, that is not the case.  These two represent “good” and “evil” and Henry hears them the way we all do when we are making a decision, whether it be a serious moral one, like deciding to have an extra-marital relationship or something more practical like choosing a career.  How many of us have felt/heard  those voices arguing inside of us, each presenting a different way of looking at the problem.,
As in previous books, Mr. Peace explores questions of religion.  In Efraim’s Eye and The Iranian Scorpion he investigated Islam and it’s tenets.  In  Sin and Contrition  different branches of Christianity were examined.  In this book he presents the thesis that existentialism is not necessarily in conflict with the beliefs of Christians.  Not everyone will agree with him., but he posits some compelling arguments to support his ideas.
As in all his previous books, the research is amazing.  Many famous authors employ researches.  Mr. Peace does all of his own and does a superb job with it.
One of the things I like best about Mr. Peace’s writing is that one is able to read on so many different levels.  His plots are well thought out and his characters developed nicely.  One is anxious to turn the page and find out what will happen next.  But when the story is over, one is left thinking about the ideas that have been raised.  What are good and evil?  What makes success and how do we measure it?  What makes something moral and something immoral?  It is easy to see why it has won awards.

And the following review is by Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite:

Sable Shadow & The Presence by William Peace is the fictional autobiography of Henry
Lawson who hears two voices from his childhood. These two voices represent good
and evil and, like any of us, Henry also hears them while making decisions. The
story takes us through Henry’s childhood to his college days, to his
relationships, to his marriage and his business. Henry suffers a series of
tragedies at the peak of his career which sees him attempting suicide. He
recovers from that dark phase with the help of his wife and a psychiatrist. It
is a story of triumph, tragedy, good, and evil.

The book has many interesting twists and turns in the plot. The author’s
fascination for existentialism is revealed through Henry Lawson’s interest in
the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre. That contributes a lot of wisdom in the
discussions that occur in the story. The characters are well developed and they
help in making the plot strong and powerful. There are some thought provoking
details on good and evil which give readers an opportunity to think more about
their individual beliefs and ideas. I found the representation of the good and
the bad voices very practical and relatable. Readers can connect to that very

The character of Henry Lawson has many shades which make him an interesting
person. The author has captured well the triumph, tragedy, good, evil, sorrows,
and happiness of human life that are palpable while reading the book.


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