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Shadow by Jenny Moss; Review

March 19, 2010

Title: Shadow

Author: Jenny Moss

Published: April 1st, 2010 by Scholastic

Number of Pages: 384

Rating: 4/5

Review Sent to Scholastic*:

Mystic and adventurous, Shadow is a book that will keep boys and girls flipping pages rapidly beneath their bed-cover tents, flashlights suspended above their heads by weary arms shaking from overuse. Realistic in its troubles and characters, and fantastic in its magic, you’ll find that this novel is full of just about everything – political intrigue, love, awkwardness, faith and the lack thereof, and duty. Not to mention characters you’ll ardently love and hate, which ultimately make the most substantial difference of all. Shadow is a ridiculously fun read.

Review:

As I told the publisher in the email I sent, I found that I liked Shadow far more than I would have expected. Maybe I begin books with a pessimistic attitude and just haven’t realized it. The upside is that books tend to astound me by the fact that they have, indeed, shot way beyond my expectations, and that makes loving a book so much sweeter.

Shadow is exactly what her name implies: a shadow. She’s been beside Queen Audrey since they were born, on the look-out for possible threats. You see, it was prophesied that the queen would not live past her 16th birthday, after which she was supposed to become ruler. Shadow is many things: unbelieving, uncaring if she is not directly related to the matter at hand, slightly selfish, in search of freedom (she’s never left the castle grounds), and destined to a life of confinement and utter boredom.

And then Shadow is no longer a shadow. The queen is dead. It’s then that the queen’s lover, Sir Kenway, commands her to follow him as they venture down a path a dead man had instructed him to follow.

I cannot reveal much more without consequently giving away far too many details. I can, however, assure you that the plot is adventurous and quite entertaining.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was Shadow herself. Her emotions were so contradictory and it was fascinating to watch her struggle to believe the unbelievable, fantastical truth. She was amazingly stubborn and nearly refused to think over things that she believed were out of control or that would not affect her, and it takes almost the entire novel to convince her that she must stand for others and work towards brightening the people’s future, as opposed to remaining in isolated freedom in the wilderness, which she’d much prefer.

Of course, she sounds like a selfish brat, but she evolves just as every deep character should. Sir Kenway is also fascinating. He’s sworn to do his duty and act his part, all for his deep, infecting loyalty to his kingdom. He’s a patriot, heart and soul, and that’s one quality you admire in him. He has obvious anger issues, sure, but those are justified, for the most part. He’s a teen-aged boy. Hopefully he’ll grow out of it.

I think I’m in a fairytale-loving phase. I’m halfway through The Books of Bayern, which are also fairytale-like. In fact, there are certain similarities between The Books of Bayern and Shadow that stand out to me, and I wish that Shadow had seemed more different and unique. Overall, I believe I enjoy The Books of Bayern a bit more, but Shadow is, in my opinion, a book that most certainly deserves to be picked up at the book store and brought home (which you can do on April 1st). You’ll be transfixed from the very beginning, in love with the characters and their depth, and intrigued by the adventure and the inevitability of it all.

Also interesting is the way everything’s done in the kingdom, the way things are ruled – really, the politics in general. The process through which things work in the world of queens, kings, knights, etc. is something we most certainly do not live. Reading about it is as close to living it as we will ever be, and it’s a time-set that distinctly makes you think of the more whimsical but endearing Disney movies. I grew up with them; they have a place in my heart.

I’d recommend this book to people who aren’t opposed to main characters that irritate you at times, but are lovable all the same. I appreciate the fact that Shadow caught on to things about as quickly as I did, although she didn’t want to believe them half the time and attempted to convince herself that the information or assumption was wrong. (Books with slow, dim-witted characters infuriate me.) I’d also recommend Shadow to people who need a bit more whimsy and a bit more fantasy in their lives. Live in this world for a moment, and then you can retreat back into reality. Just a moment of the surreal wouldn’t hurt, would it? Allow yourself to believe in the utterly impossible.

Just for a moment.

*Thanks for the ARC!

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