Sunday, January 21, 2018

Book Review - Shadow Weaver

Shadow Weaver
by MarcyKate Connolly
2018
307 pages

'Fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak and The Night Gardener will devour Shadow Weaver, the first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology that's filled with shadows, danger, magic, and has the feel of a new classic.

Emmeline's gift of controlling shadows has isolated her from the rest of the world, but she's grown to be content, hidden away in her mansion with Dar, her own shadow, as her only company.

Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble's mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.

With the noble's guards on her trail, Emmeline's only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline's not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it's hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.
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The cover art is what made me notice this book but what really drew me in was on the back of the book where it says when the girl was born she didn't reach instinctively for her mother . . . but for the shadow in the corner of the room.  Creeee-py!

This is a middle grade book so it's meant to be rather light and easy.  I've read a lot of middle grade books though, and this one was somewhat disappointing.  There is an interesting story, lots of potential, but it fizzles out in staying too 'safe.'  The biggest disappoint I had early on was that there is just no world building.  You're just dropped into the story and you get almost no detail or history.  As the book goes on you sort of get used to it but it's still disappointing because there could have been so much more, even for middle grade kids.  And then when it's getting toward the end and things are being revealed, all the elements are coming together, it sort of fizzles again because it stays strongly on that path of 'safe.'  There is mild violence but no blood and guts, no vicious murders.  Even the crimes of the villains, in the end, are rather tame.  But even with all that, there is a constant element of suspense as you start to realize this girl's shadow might not be all she seems to be, and that anxious feeling grows as you try to figure out whether she's on the side of good or evil.

Another thing I had a problem with is the use of shadows.  I guess I'm just too literal because even though it's kid fantasy, I kept scoffing at Emmeline using shadows to cloak herself and move about.  I mean, she's not making herself invisible.  She's drawing shadows to her to sort of cover herself and can walk right past people.  Umm, wouldn't that mean there are very obvious large masses of darkness moving around?  And people don't notice that?  lol  Yeah, I'm nitpicking but it really just irked me.

As a middle grade book, meant for kids, this is probably really good and exciting.  Like I said, it's quite tame, and is a good introduction into creepy fantasy stories for kids.  It's fun for adults too if you don't look too deep like I did.

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