Dr. John “Johnny” Armstrong visited the Vernon Parish Public Library in Leesville on Monday night. He performed a reading of his debut novel Shadowshine.

The book is an animal tale for adults in the same vein as Richard Adam’s 1972 classic, Watership Down. 

Shadowshine tells the story of Zak, an opossum, who must venture deep into the woods to save his home from destruction. Among the book’s themes is the estrangement between mankind and the rest of the animal kingdom. 

Armstrong read excerpts from the book and was very animated while doing so. He changed voices for the various characters and brought the story to life through his reading. 

Those in attendance got to learn a little bit more about Zak,  the possum who was raised by squirrels, and his epic journey.

“This story has been something I’ve worked on for over 20 years,” Armstrong said. “The ideas of the characters were the first thing that came to me. Slowly, I would add more details about these characters in my mind. I felt that I owed these characters a complete story.”

Armstrong noted that he didn’t know that he would end up with a full-length novel, but he ultimately decided that a novel would do justice to the characters that are so dear to him. 

Shadowshine has received many glowing reviews online from readers and Armstrong’s peers in the writing community. Author Tom Aswell compared Shadowshine to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as greek myth. 

"It’s what I would describe as a story akin to The Hobbit, or Homer’s Odyssey-lite. This book would make a great animated feature movie and I hope some astute scriptwriter stumbles across it and sees its potential. Three words: delightful, entertaining, and enlightening."

An online review by reader Elizabeth Gilbert sang the book’s praises. 

 “I rarely discover a book that completely engages me in its story and characters, while making me stop and think about underlying issues at the same time. Shadowshine did that and more,” she wrote. 

For more information, log on to shadowshinebook.com