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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Umbra by Yana Barbelo is an imaginative story filled with religious symbolism. The story begins with the myth of creation, only this time, it isn’t the Word that is primordial, but the darkness. Ohno Hoia bears a collection of seeds and her shadow that follows her everywhere. She barely remembers her origins and while she wants freedom, she is linked to the shadow day after day, for better or worse. She wants to break away from the shadow, but she can’t. Her beautiful garden in present-day California is delightful to behold, but darkness invades her soul and she knows not where it came from. What happens when she decides to follow the shadow to its source? Will she find freedom and light or imprisonment?
Dark fantasy at its best, Umbra is a story that is symbolic, fertile in the interpretations it allows readers. At the heart of it all, there is the tale of motherhood, of the darkness that gave birth to light, and the illuminating paradox of life: She who bears the seed of light is overshadowed by darkness. I loved how the author takes the biblical analogy of creation and infuses a twist into it; the story comes out beautifully with lessons about light and darkness, birth and the garden, and a woman’s search for the light that she possesses. This is a spellbinding story that had me enthralled and completely pulled in. This is a story for readers who are seekers. It is inspiring and features a protagonist that wins both the sympathy of readers and their admiration. The style is evocative and spellbinding.