Written by MarcyKate Connolly
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication date: 1st January 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
The shadows that surround us aren’t always as they seem…
Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.
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.
The first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology, MarcyKate Connolly weaves a tale filled with shadows, danger, and magic that has the feel of a new classic.
The first time my shadow spoke to me I was a mere infant in the cradle. They say on the night I was born that even the stars fled the sky and the moon hid under a dark cloak. That I was a quiet thing, with a shock of black hair and eyes like glittering onyx. I did not scream like other newborn children. And I did not reach for my mother like instinct should have instructed me.
Instead, I held out my tiny arms and smiled at the shadow in the corner of the room.
And it smiled back.
Didn’t know what to expect going into this, but so glad I requested it on Netgalley – a really solid middle-grade adventure. I will be buying my own copy, reading it to my class and can’ wait until the second part of this duology. This reads like a future classic and I can see it being very popular with children aged 7+ who have also enjoyed stories such as The Worst Witch, or for slightly older readers who have enjoyed the creepieness of Coraline.
I found myself drawn in immediately and could really relate to Emmeline and her isolation – she sees her magic as something beautiful but those around her are frightened by it. As the reader, we also have a faint thread of unease running through the text as Emmeline’s shadow appears in mysterious places and, almost, seems to have a mind of its own…
The sense of menace deepens when some of Emmeline’s shadow play goes wrong and the arrival of some visitors who say they can help her with her ‘problem’.
Read on and enjoy – highly recommended book!
With so few people around with magic talents, you’d think they’d want to show me off. But they don’t see how wonderful the shadows are, the beauty in the darkness, not like I do.
Only Dar understands me.
She squeezes my ankle like she knows my thoughts. You’re not crazy and you;re not an embarrassment; you’re a gift. Someday we’ll prove it to them.
What I liked: Emmeline’s character, the storyline and world-building which hint at so much more going on behind the scenes, the mystery about Dar and the people Emmeline meets on her journey.
Even better if: I want Part 2 of this duology now!
How you could use it in your classroom: This would make an interesting read-aloud for upper primary school or a recommendation for those who have already enjoyed books such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It could also spark a discussion about the attitude towards people who are different – how would you feel if your friend or family member had magic? Would you treat them differently? Would the world be better with magic or not? Another interesting discussion could be looking at the unintended consequences of Emmeline’s actions – this links back to old fairytales where wishes often go wrong in unforeseen ways. Is there something you have done which hasn’t worked out as planned? How do you handle it?
(Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for my e-ARC)