Roy Heath’s greatest strength as a fiction writer is in his characterization. He creates characters who seem to be real people. In The Shadow Bride, he tells his story from many different viewpoints, including those of Mrs. Singh, Betta, Betta’s wife Meena, Rani, Lahti, Sukrum, the Pujaree, and several others. He displays adroit craftsmanship in constructing scenes in which different characters are paired for purposes of contrast. Almost every character will interact at some point in the story with every other character, and the interactions are always appropriate to what is known of their personalities and motivations.
Heath writes good dialogue that suggests the intellectual, educational, and moral level of his characters; he never uses dialogue in a heavy-handed manner for the purpose of conveying plot information to readers. Like real people, Heath’s characters do not always say what they think and feel because they do not always know what they are thinking and feeling. Moreover, they often have reasons to conceal their true thoughts or feelings.
Heath shares one quality with the world’s greatest creative writers: He is able to project himself into all of his characters. Betta reflects that there is something in himself of all the people he has encountered over a period of about ten years. It should be noted that Heath himself has obvious points in common with both Mrs. Singh and Betta. Like Mrs. Singh, Heath is an...
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