I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.In the Shadows by Jim Di Bartolo, Kiersten White
Also by this author: Paranormalcy, Illusions of Fate, And I Darken
Published by Scholastic Inc. on 2014-04-29
Genres: Love & Romance, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
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From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes a spellbinding story of love, mystery, and dark conspiracy, told in an alternating narrative of words and pictures. Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch. Thomas and Charles are brothers who've been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can't. Arthur is also new to the boarding house. His fate is tied to that of Cora, Minnie, Thomas, and Charles. He knows what darkness circles them, but can't say why, and doesn't even know if they can be saved. Sinister forces are working in the shadows, manipulating fates and crafting conspiracies. The closer Cora, Minnie, Arthur, Thomas, and Charles get to the truth, the closer they get to harm. But the threat is much bigger than they can see. It is strangling the world. Until one of the boys decides he wants to save it. Told in an astonishing mix of art and words, IN THE SHADOWS collides past against future, love against evil, and hope against fear. The result is both a mystery and a masterpiece.
I think I say this on literally every review of Kiersten White’s books that I write, but I am a forever fan of all of her books. I like that she’s so creative and that her world building is often different from most things that I read. So, of course, I utilized my Scholastic auto-approval on Netgalley to score a copy of the most recent book by White that I have not read yet, In The Shadows, which actually she has co-authored with Jim Di Bartolo (who is Laini Taylor’s husband FYI) and you guys, what an interesting mind meld between the two. If you’re into mixed media books like I am and also into Kiersten White’s books like I am, I think you should totally grab a copy of In The Shadows and I am going to also have to recommend that you grab a physical copy of this book, because I felt that I was missing out on the tactile experience by reading this on my computer and not flipping actual pages and pouring over the actual art.
After finishing In The Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo, my first reaction was to type ‘what a weird and strange book’ as that’s exactly how I felt. In the Shadows features what feels like parallel storylines. You see, one storyline, the prose storyline written by Kiersten White is about five youths – Cora, Minnie, Thom, Charles, and Arthur. Cora and Minnie’s mother run a boarding house and this summer Thom and Charles, brothers, are staying at the house. Meanwhile, an old family friend’s child, Arthur comes to stay with Cora and Minnie’s mother under strange circumstances. It turns out that Charles is dying, Arthur is hiding a secret and another boarder is obsessed with Cora. As for the graphic art storyline, we see this one guy over and over again chasing down this group of people and engaging in violence throughout the years, he never ages, nor does the group that he’s hunting down. Eventually the two storylines merge, but for awhile it is super confusing trying to figure out how the two connect.
Unfortunately, In The Shadows is not quite the breezy read that I expect from White. I mean, it’s not hilarious or anything. In fact, it is rather dark. However, there’s some hallmarks of her writing that I found in this book — namely a spirited heroine, this time in the form of Minnie. There’s also a romance that is not totally apparent until the end. There’s also some brave youths that I really liked. Also, the secret society of immortals in this book is a neat element, especially when it comes to how they are able to maintain their eternal lives. Also, there’s some real danger and risk posed to the characters, hard choices made and actual legitimate sad parts.
As for Di Bartolo’s art, I loved it. The illustrations in this book are all full color. They are vivid and detailed pictures. In fact, it feels like there is a lot of movement in the illustrations. It’s the sort of art that begs you to look twice and really concentrate on what you are seeing. However, I have to admit that I wish that the art interacted with the text a bit more. I honestly did not get the connection until the very end when all is explained. Not that I begrudge the visual storyline, I just wish it made more sense earlier so that I would personally have had more buy in. Perhaps I would have felt differently had I read an actual physical copy.