A man spends his evenings dressing up as a superhero and his days stuck in the past.
Sam Holloway is, by outward appearances, a normal man. He flies under the radar in his job at a warehouse, he has a couple of friends, and he spends his free time drinking at a local pub. But what no one else knows is that, by night, Sam becomes The Phantasm. He dons a costume and hits the city streets, ready to help people as a renegade crime fighter. It’s the only thing that helps Sam make sense of the crushing grief and loneliness he feels after the years-ago plane crash that killed his entire family. He may not have been able to save them, but at least he can help others. Sam prefers to be by himself, at home with his comics, sticking to his routines…that is, until he meets Sarah. Right away, Sam knows that Sarah is different—she seems to understand him, and he’d rather be with her than home alone. But actually being in a relationship with her will require Sam to open up in a way that he hasn’t been able to since his family died. He may even have to give up his secret crime-fighting alter ego…but is a new relationship worth it? Or should he just stay in the comfortable, but lonely, cocoon he’s created? When Sam makes a mistake at work that spirals into a catastrophe, he realizes he can’t be anonymous forever. Thomas’ (On the Third Day, 2010, etc.) characters are all well-drawn, especially Sam, whose sympathetic backstory makes him immensely likable. Sam’s life seems almost unbearably sad at points, but that makes it all the more meaningful when he’s finally able to take off his mask—both figuratively and literally—and be brave. By opening himself up to Sarah, his friends, and even his boss, Sam might finally be able to live a life he never thought possible.
A lovely and touching exploration of grief and courage, perfect for self-proclaimed geeks and those who love them.