Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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

Synopsis:  When eleven-year-old Olive moves into the crumbling old mansion on Linden Street, she's right to think there's something weird about the place, especially the walls covered in creepy antique paintings.  But when she finds a pair of old-fashioned glasses in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet -- She can travel inside these paintings to Elsewhere, a world that's strangely quiet...and eerily sinister.

Olive soon finds that Elsewhere has secrets to hide -- and the most annoying of them is Morton, a small boy with a big temper.  As he and Olive form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself caught in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary.  It's up to her to save the house from the shadows, before the lights go out for good.

For fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman comes a tale at turns haunting, moving, and darkly funny (and best if read with a flashlight under the bed sheets -- shhh!)

My thoughts:  I've said it before and I'll say it again - I am a cover art snob.  I love beautiful illustrations on the cover of a book.  It does more to draw me into a book than anything else.  I LOVE the cover of this book!  It's almost three-dimensional looking (and the second book in the series is almost even better!)  The illustrations throughout the book are beautifully done as well.  So if you are looking for a pretty book, this one is it!  =]

However, it's not just a pretty book.  It's actually a little creepy at times.  I've read a few other reviews that have said it is too scary.  I didn't find it too scary at all, but it IS a little creepy!  I'm not sure my third grader would appreciate it much, but my sixth grader would love it!

I really loved the idea of traveling inside paintings.  I find myself looking at paintings or pictures and wonder what is happening farther inside them, in the places that you can't see.  What's going on inside the houses?  What's hiding in the forest? Who will you meet if you follow the path over the hill?  It's an interesting idea!

I really liked the main characters.  Olive was fun and her parents were funny, if a bit strange.  Who leaves their 11 year old home alone overnight in a creepy house they just moved into?  It had to happen to further the story, but as a parent of an 11 year old, it freaks me out a little!  =]

Morton was fun too.  In the synopsis it says that he has a really big temper.  I don't know that he has a temper as much as something awful happened to him and he's all alone.  I would be angry too!  =]  But he is a fun character.  And the cats are great as well - Leopold, Horatio and Harvey.  Harvey is my favorite.  He is always acting like a pirate or a knight or something and it's so fun to listen to him!

Anyway, this was a perfect book to read right before Halloween.  A little creepy, a little scary, a lot fun and imaginative.  I gave it four stars!


Misty Moncur said...

Sounds good. Definitely not a book I would normally look at on my own (even though the cover IS cool!)

Jillian said...

Great review! I'll have to tell my little nieces about this one :)