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The Shadows: 03/26/13

cover art

The Shadows by Jacqueline West is the first of the The Books of Elsewhere series. It also won a CYBILS in 2011.

Olive and her math professor parents have moved into a decaying Victorian mansion. It's fully furnished with the furniture and paintings of the late Ms. McMartin. As Olive soon discovers, it's also inhabited by her cats — and they can talk.

As her parents are so focused on their new jobs, and their careers, Olive is left to herself and to the house. She begins to notice things like shadows moving in the paintings. Later, she discovers a way to travel through the paintings. What at first seems like harmless fun, though, quickly becomes something dangerous.

As others have pointed out, there's a similarity to Neil Gaiman's Coraline. But the experience of moving into a house is a pretty standard set up for fiction — especially for horror and fantasy.

As a fan of houses with creepy histories, and with the surrealism of traveling through artwork, I loved this book. Although it's written for readers still new to chapter books and longer works, it held my attention. It also has some wonderful black and white illustrations.

Five stars

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