Alexa, here! As the title of the book suggests, the world it propelled me into is quite dark and rather frightening. You have been warned.
Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch.
Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.
In the Shadows tells two parts of the same story, one through words, and one through paintings. The book begins with the paintings, and it’s quite the intriguing start. From there, I was captivated throughout the story, and thoroughly confused until the end.
Even with the confusing bit though, the plot was really good. Intricately woven, magical (literally), and just plain genius, the way all the questions and conspiracy came together at the climax, winding down to a nice, fitting ending.
Also, masterful use of the love triangle. Can’t say more without giving spoilers, but if you’re looking for a new and slightly heartbreaking take on the age-old romance gimmick, look no further than In the Shadows.
Of course, there’s a whole lot more than just romance in this book, part of the reason I like it so much. Magic, mystery, crazy conspiracies, that sort of thing.
Honestly, I can’t think of anything bad to say about the plot. So I guess I’ll just give my rating and move along.
Plot: 5 stars out of 5
I really liked them. The story switches between the POVs of five teens: Cora, Arthur, Thomas, Charles, and Minnie. Each of them were interesting, intricate characters, with their own problems to solve, inner demons to fight, and unique ways of relating to their world. I’m… not sure who my favorite character is. I was about to type Charles and Minnie, when I remembered how much I loved Cora and Arthur (Thomas was nice, but he couldn’t touch the number-one spot. Sorry, Thom). So, yeah. I guess I’ll just say I loved them all.
As much as I did adore them, there wasn’t much development. I love love love love love to see changes in characters, to be able to tell a difference, even a slight one, from the way they were at the beginning to the people I leave at the close.
But there wasn’t much of that in this book. Cora changed a bit, but the rest of them basically retained their original mindsets, attitudes, and personalities. Other than their newfound knowledge about magical conspiracies, they seemed to be pretty much the same as they were when I opened the book.
Characters: 4 stars out of 5
I got a pretty good grasp of the setting, half from the paintings and half from the text. I don’t remember it being really loud like, “Hey look at me! I’m the setting!” But I was able to imagine the beach, the houses, the ocean, everywhere they were without a problem. So I’d say the authors did a pretty good job on that.
As far as the writing style, well, when I find a passage of description or dialogue that I find unique or interesting or deep, I put a slip of paper on that page so I can reread it later. Let’s just say I have so many slips of paper stuck inside In the Shadows, that I might as well reread the whole thing.
Writing Style/Setting: 5 stars out of 5
Overall, we come in at about 4.7 stars out of 5, and this book deserves every point. However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone because of the occasional curse word, a bit of violence, but mostly, some disturbing images. There’s one part towards the end where the pictures get really freaky.
But if you don’t mind that kind of thing, and you like creepy, magical, mystery things as much as I do, I’d suggest you check it out. You can find it at Barnes and Noble for $19.92