Umbra: Tales of a Shadow, by Freddie A. Clark

7 Dec 2023

The Book

Umbra: Tales of a Shadow
Pages: 511
Age Group: Adult
Published on 28 Nov 2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Available on:


Obscurity must be explored, understood, heard. The light of revelation is generated from first-hand experience and knowledge. Will you face obscurity in order for light to reveal itself?

Trained since his childhood and cybernetically augmented to seek justice in the canal-filled city of Florydia, Fulvio Donati is an assassin and thief who adopted a double identity. When night falls, Fulvio becomes Umbra: a masked vigilante, a charming and lethal shadow.

The intellectual, philosopher and alchemist Soleluna Giordani was only twenty-nine when their search for immortality led them to a terrible mistake. Their consciousness has been trapped inside a mask for almost eight centuries, an irremediable captivity that robbed them of a glorious existence and their place in history.

In a beautiful yet corrupted land in which crime lords, celebrities and ruthless politicians are competing for the highest power, a deadly conspiracy is unfolding. While alchemists and courtesans search for a way to survive and a prince must search for one to save his life, Fulvio finds himself involved in intrigues and machinations.

Soleluna will show Fulvio the way, guiding him with their wit and their boundless wisdom. Fulvio will show Soleluna a world they were never meant to see, an astounding futuristic reality going beyond anything they’ve ever imagined. Together, they shall save Florydia from its downfall.  

My Review

Umbra: Tales of a Shadow is a vibrating cyberpunk novel, written by Freddie A. Clark, a story about exploring the complexity behind the discovery of self-identity; all set in the city of Florydia, a neon-powered cyberpunk city inspired by Venice. An excellent book, a queer read, that draws you toward following Fulvio's self-discovery journey in parallel with the conspiracy that is threatening to change Florydia for ever.

Fulvio Donatti has been trained since his childhood and cybernetically enhanced to act as Umbra, a masked vigilante and thief in the city of Florydia; a city that is full of scheming and power craving individuals, politicians and celebrities fighting for getting this power. And in these circumstances, Umbra finds himself involved in those same conspiracies; he's at the risk of just becoming a marionette of the powerful and those higher than him.
But all changes when he steals the mask where Soleluna is trapped; a legendary alchemist whose conscience was trapped eight centuries ago. Entering in contact with them will open a totally new world to Fulvio, a new door to questions that will make himself to question everything about how his identity was shaped by others; through the eyes of Fulvio, Soleluna will have a window to experience the world they were denied due to their mistake in the immortality quest.

All of this happening in the city of Florydia, a setting that feels a middle point between Night City and Venice; a place where the technology is the norm, corrupted by the schemes and the power fights, but which still has the beauty of channels and many of its traditions. Clark pays an excellent homage to them, especially to Carnivale and its masks, a metaphor of how people hides their real identity to perform in public. 
And in the same way tradition and technology are coliving in Florydia, alchemy represents that classiness between the modernity; showing, however, an incredible aperture and acceptance of different options despite appearing many centuries ago.

The pacing goes greatly with the story, but still I think having several POV can be a bit confusing, despite being the best option to portray the conspiracy against Florydia. Characters are probably the other big hit of Clark, introducing themes such as found family through Fulvio's friends; you end appreciating many of them, even when some are forced to perform really dark actions.

With this novel, I can certainly declare that Venetianpunk is a genre, and that Clark has written an excellent novel, queer friendly, and that I recommend to anybody looking for LGTBQ+ cyberpunk with a perfect Italian touch. Woud love to come back to Florydia!

The Author/s