Shadows Move Among Them


byEdgar Mittelholzer. Lippincott, $3.00.
On the advice of his psychiatrist to find a change of scene, a psychologically distraught young Englishman, Gregory Hawke, arrives at the jungled heart of British Guiana to visit his relatives, the Harmstons, and their four witching children. The remote native community of Berkelhoost, over which the Reverend Mr. Harmston exercises an adamant benevolent despotism, is a disturbing one, funny, sunny, and sinister by turns. The Reverend’s dogmas and decrees are those of a cultist, and their odd particulars unfold in a kind of counterpoint to those of the inner temblors that tighten and tear the spirit of Hawke.
A recounting of the plot cannot suggest the multiple fascinations of Mr. Mittelholzer’s narrative: the effective evocation of the jungle through its omnipresent sounds — the swishes, sighs, creaks, scuttles, cracklings, scurries, and streams that people it; the entire credibility of unlikely and lively characters, from the precocious and lovely young Olivia to the rambunctious native servant, Logan, with his overtones of Shakespeare’s Caliban; the terrible Waugh-like joke that underlies the story’s denouement.
Shadows Move Among Them is a novel of notable and refreshing creativity from end to end; a work of wit, whim, and iron.