September 5, 2011

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere #1) - by Jacqueline West

So, you're an 11-year-old girl whose family just moved into a dark creepy mansion, and you're getting a weird feeling from the paintings in the hall.  The paintings, along with all the other furniture, stayed behind when the old lady who last lived in the house died, mainly because your absent-minded mathematician parents couldn't be bothered with cleaning it out.  You, however, are quite normal, at least you thought so until you started seeing odd things, like small movements and a creeping sense of dread when you stared into a certain painting outside of your bedroom.  Before long you find an old pair of spectacles and realize that you can see into the pictures (Kind of like in the Charlie Bone series, but creepier.)  If this rings a bell, you must be Olive, the lead character in the new Books of Elsewhere series.  Good luck to you.

Once Olive discovers the secret of the paintings, it's a rush against time for her to save everything she knows and loves from a sinister old man long dead who is somehow reaching back from beyond the grave to work his dark magic one more time.  Oh, and she has to deal with three mysterious cats who seem to have come with the house, but who are also far more powerful and important (and silly) than she would have ever guessed.

This is kind of a haunted house story, but also a girl-power mysterious adventure.  It was pretty dark at times, with lots of weird things happening (think Neil Gaiman's writing), but also a hint of hope.  The writing itself was flowing and beautiful, and the author's use of language was my favorite thing about the book.  I liked it, but have talked to tween girls who absolutely loved it, so be your own judge.  The second book in the series, Spellbound, is now out as well.

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