Romance, magical algebra textbooks and more than a fair share of lovable dogs and shadow critters appear in Robin McKinley’s newest book, SHADOWS. With a clever crossover of science fiction and fantasy, McKinley creates a new world with more challenges and confusion than we could ever imagine.
"With a surprising romance and a bit of a Japanese influence woven in, SHADOWS shows us what can happen when we all work together and reinforces the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”"
Margaret Alistrina, or Maggie, hates her new stepfather. Not only is he utterly foreign and strange, but he also has a cast of wiggly, slithering shadows following him around that only Maggie can see. Val comes from a world where magic is still used; now he lives in Newworld, a land where magicians are considered complete loopheads. Maggie becomes more and more uneasy the longer Val is around --- but why can’t anyone else, not even her dog Mongo, see how strange he is? Then Maggie meets Casmir, who comes from Oldworld --- the same land Val is from. Casmir claims that Val was once a famous magician in his world, so why did he leave? What kind of secrets is he hiding? Maggie soon finds out while discovering a few crazy surprises about herself along the way.
I found SHADOWS to be completely intriguing. By the end, I was glued to every page. Admittedly, the beginning dragged a little and the world SHADOWS is set in was hard to get a grasp on at first. With new terms like “cobey” and “silverbug” and puzzling slang like “bugsuck” and “dreeping,” McKinley throws readers into the story and reveals key details along the way. Each puzzle piece to the story comes together slowly as the tale progresses. Every character is fully developed; Maggie is most certainly dynamic, as she matures significantly throughout SHADOWS, Val (without giving too much away) turns out to be not so bad and Takahiro and Jill --- Maggie’s best friends --- have a few secrets of their own. Not to forget Mongo and the rest of the dogs at the shelter Maggie works at, along with a few other “shadowy” creatures that play a very important role in SHADOWS.
With a surprising romance and a bit of a Japanese influence woven in, SHADOWS shows us what can happen when we all work together and reinforces the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Readers will be swept up in this whimsical and dangerous world of magic versus science. Although SHADOWS is completed, there are more secrets in the shadows to uncover.
Reviewed by Emma S. on September 23, 2013