Review

Shadowlands

by Kate Brian

It’s everybody’s worst nightmare. Being attacked by someone you know, someone you trust, with no one around to save you. That is, no one but yourself.

By a trick of fate, Rory Miller, a shy, risk-averse, and totally ordinary teen has survived being attacked by a serial murderer. That’s great news, except for the fact that the serial murderer got away, and that he has never left a victim alive --- even if he had to come back more than once to finish the job.

"Not many authors can effectively combine adventure and emotional exploration without feeling heavy-handed, but Brian achieves both with pizazz and charm."

With Rory’s life in danger, her family has to act fast to protect her and themselves. The police feel that their best route is to move the family into witness protection on a small, isolated island. None of the Millers are happy about this development. Rory’s older sister, Darcy, on the verge of graduation, has to leave without saying goodbye to any of her friends. Rory’s father, disconnected from his daughters since Rory’s mother’s death five years before, isn’t exactly primed to take responsibility for helping Rory and Darcy adjust to their new living situation. And Rory can’t stop the fear that has been with her since the day she made her narrow escape.

Even though their new home is a beautiful vacation location, Rory can’t help feeling that she’s still at risk. The only thing is, she can’t tell from what. Has the serial killer followed the family? Are the neighborhood kids actually hiding something? And is Darcy really going to continue giving her the cold shoulder rather than offering sympathy or support?

As the days on the island progress, however, Rory begins to feel more at ease. Her father’s taken up some of his old habits again and is making an effort to build a better relationship with his daughters. And the ice that has grown between Darcy and Rory even begins to thaw; as the sisters start spending more time together, they learn to find a compromise between Darcy’s intense extraversion and Rory’s self-enforced semi-solitude.

But just as suddenly as the incident that ripped their family from their old lives occured, something happens that jolts Rory from her growing comfort. A friend from the island has disappeared. More striking still, no one seems to be able to remember her. Other strange things begin to happen too, and Rory’s worst suspicions are confirmed. She doesn’t know how, and she doesn’t know who, but someone is messing with her. Can she decide who she can trust before it’s too late?

This is my favorite "Teen Read" so far and therefore comes to you, dear reader, highly recommended. Kate Brian masterfully describes the confusion of a mind working through a nightmare situation. She leads the reader through Rory’s experiences as she’s thrown from one emotion to the next and evokes the desperation with which Rory realizes that she can’t rely on anyone but herself for comfort or emotional stability.

Rory’s original confusion and ultimate realization of self make this book intensely relatable, despite the admittedly unusual circumstances of the protagonist. These same qualities are also what make the book such a valuable coming of age story. Not many authors can effectively combine adventure and emotional exploration without feeling heavy-handed, but Brian achieves both with pizazz and charm. Despite Rory’s idiosyncrasies and rather nervous and self-righteous overall demeanor, the reader can’t help cheering for her and taking strength in her triumphs over the limitations she has set for herself.

Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg on January 11, 2013

Shadowlands
by Kate Brian

  • Publication Date: January 8, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Horror, Romance, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • ISBN-10: 1423164830
  • ISBN-13: 9781423164838