“Only in darkness can a hero be born. What happens when good men do nothing? The world burns. He pulls the armour down over his chest, the gloves over his hands, the elbow guards, straps on his pack and utility belt. In the mirror he pulls on the mask and descends through the house.”
Superheroes come in many forms, and being heroic requires much more than donning a colourful cape. True heroism lies at the heart of Rhys Thomas’ charming and heartening new novel, The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway.
With cover art as enticing as this, it’s hard to not immediately be drawn in. But from the very first page I was hooked after being introduced to The Phantasm, the crime-fighting (and Toffee Crisp chomping) alter-ego of 26 year old Sam Holloway. Determined to rid the world of dark deeds and anti-social behaviour, The Phantasm is a different kind of superhero: one with a very big heart.
Behind the mask lies Sam, a man who was suffered unfathomable personal challenges and is dealing with the hand that he has been dealt in the best way he can: day by day.
And he’s managing well with his clearly-ordered life, meal plans and highly structured routines – until he meets Sarah and everything takes an unexpected turn, leading Sam to begin to question whether it could be possible for him to actually be happy after all.
Drawing strong comparisons to the central protagonists in both Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project, Sam Holloway doesn’t view the world in the same way that many of us do. But that’s certainly not a bad thing. His questioning perspective is fresh and his acts are so pure that it’s impossible to not go away from this book wishing to be a little kinder to those that we encounter.
It’s rare that a book as beautiful as this on the outside is matched by the content within. But Sam Holloway is an unforgettable character, impossible not to cheer along every step of the way as he battles to overcome personal adversity and, of course, a tough final nemesis.
Laugh-out-loud funny at times, but also filled to the brim with heart, The Unlikely Heroics is a delightful take on the overwhelming power that comes with being kind.