Monday, February 21, 2011

The Books of Elsewhere

I just read a creepy new children's novel--a novel that plays with darkness, bringing it to life, as I try to do in Skipping Stones at the Center of the Earth. The book is The Shadows, by Jacqueline West. My oh my can West write. Her talent, though, has put her protagonist (eleven-year-old Olive) in a tough spot--one where "whispers [rush] after her, like dry leaves in the wind." If only Olive's story had been told by some hack, the poor girl wouldn't have nearly so much to worry about.

Anyway, I've written a short review of the book:

The Shadows, Jacqueline West
I have no idea how Dial (the publisher) or bookstores are marketing Jacqueline West’s scary good middle-grade novel The Shadows, but it’s a horror through and through. In all the best ways, too. It feels more like a long short story than a novel, as its protagonist (eleven-year-old Olive) finds herself trapped in one horrifying setting from beginning to end: her house. We’ve all been there—alone for the night, hearing creaks and groans, knowing deep inside us that the dark corners and spreading shadows hold dangers we want to ignore. West, in poet’s prose, brings paintings, lakes, and trees to life; they all want to take ours. For Olive, it’s “a nightmare, and she [can’t] wake up.” For us, it’s one compellingly claustrophobic read. The best news: The Shadows is merely the first in a forthcoming series (The Books of Elsewhere). Good luck, Olive. Don’t forget to look back over your shoulder.

Happy reading.

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