Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: "In The Shadows" by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo

Cora and Minnie are sisters, living in a small coastal (and touristy) town in Maine.  Their widowed mother runs the boarding house where Thomas and Charles come to spend the summer.  Thomas and Charles are brothers, but Charles is very sick and needed to get away from New York City for his health.  Arthur is at the boarding house too - and also seems to be around their ages, but he is a bit of a mystery.  He is not there by accident, and neither are the brothers... but all five of them may need to work together to figure out what is really going on.

I'll admit, this book wasn't even on my radar.  It arrived unexpectedly but I was instantly intrigued by it.  It is told in alternating formats - text and illustrations - and that reminded me of how much I enjoy Brian Selznick's work.  But this is truly much darker and more sinister than Selznick.  The text part of the story is told over one summer in Maine, but you are not really sure when exactly.  The story told through art spans decades, travels the world, and while you do have some idea of when things are happening, it just doesn't seem possible.  The two timelines are connected, but it isn't clear how that is until the very end.  It is a little disconcerting and  kind of kept me off balance a little, but it adds to the overall mystery.

There is a great deal of dark and creepy going on here, but I wasn't completely blown away.  By seeing things from each of the 5 character's perspectives, I didn't feel especially connected to any of them in particular.  It was a little too easy to take a break in the middle parts, if you catch my drift.  But I did enjoy the story - especially as it started to come together.  The full color art is beautiful and told its own story complete with its own mystery, coupled with the mystery from the text.  All together it is a unique reading experience, one that I'd be happy to add to my library's collection.  This will be great for the more sophisticated teen reader who can handle the duel timelines, but who also likes a good creepy story.

In The Shadows
by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo
Scholastic, 2014
373 pages
Source:  Publisher for honest review


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