Book Club Discussion Questions
1. Shrug says, “There’s a problem with Carbon’s kind of love.” Is love an absolute, or are there different kinds of love? Do different cultures define love differently and hold different expectations of ‘love’? In your mind, what are some of the ‘right’ components of love and how do they compare to the various views of love offered up by the SHADOW RIDERS’ characters?
2. Just like most perpetrators of domestic violence, Carbon offers justification for his abusive behaviour and is eventually able to convince Allie that his excuses have merits. What factors play into Allie’s acceptance of Carbon’s explanation? Are there parts of his excuse that you are willing to accept?
3. Fear, physical allure, depression and loneliness help nourish Allie’s growing attraction to Carbon. What factors, the same or different, play into the establishment of an ordinary romance? Do some of these factors make us all vulnerable to abuse?
4. Did Carbon really love Allie? Why is the answer to that question important to the story? To Allie? To us? From your point of view, if Carbon loved Allie, does that make his abuse more abhorrent or less so? How about from Allie’s point of view?
5. Abusers often isolate their victims from the influence of family and friends in order to tighten their control over them. How big a role did isolation play in Allie and Carbon’s relationship?
6. Several times in the story, the justice system is manipulated. In the end, was everyone treated fairly by the courts? Should justice be malleable like this in order to adapt to circumstances or does that increase the possibility that not everyone will be treated equally under the law?
7. Allie refused to cooperate with investigators. With a few exceptions, Canadian law doesn’t require people to report illegal activities or answer police questions about them. Discuss the effect this has on justice. (One exception requires certain professions to report suspicions of child abuse.)
8. Communication and transportation technologies are making the world a much smaller place. Both legitimate and illicit business is commonly conducted across borders and jurisdictions, and ‘off shore’, where no country has legal jurisdiction. To adapt to technology, what changes to national and international legal systems are needed? What are some changes that have recently been made?
9. Allie appears confused about when it was that she fell in love with Carbon. In your view, which scene was the turning point in Allie’s feelings toward Carbon? What were the deciding factors? Is there a point in the story when your feelings toward Carbon changed dramatically? How about your feelings toward Allie?
10. Carbon stirs Allie’s sympathies with his tearful tale about the massacre. Discuss why this sharing of his emotions and ‘secrets’ works so well to bind her to him.
11. Carbon uses a sly mixture of truth and lies to manipulate Allie. Her distrust of his honesty initially prevents her from falling for him. Does Allie’s love for Carbon and her trust in him, evolve in sync? Which scenes increased your trust in Carbon? Decreased it? Do you agree with Shrug when he tells Allie that ‘damned near everything’ Carbon told her was a lie? Discuss the positive and negative roles dishonesty plays in all relationships.
12. What do you think was the most helpful thing a character said or did to assist Allie in breaking free of Carbon? Which parts of Allie’s story most influenced your feelings toward women in abusive relationships? Would you feel confident in offering support to a friend experiencing domestic violence?
13. In real life, it takes a woman an average of twenty attempts to break free of an abusive relationship. So...is Allie eventually going to go back to Carbon? If she were to go back to him, would you understand why? Which character would likely be least surprised if she made that decision and why? Do you want her to stay true to Carbon? If Allie gives Carbon the chance, shows him trust and love and loyalty, how likely is he to become a non-abusive partner? What other factors play into the likelihood that he’ll change or not change?
14. There are several well-developed characters in this novel. Which one is your favourite and why?
Shadow Riders is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon, Smashwords and other fine online book retailers. If it is not on the shelves of your library or local bookstore, ask to have it ordered in for you.
Eileen Schuh, Author