Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Books of Elsewhere #1: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, #1)Olive moves into a strange old house, and the paintings left on the walls frighten her. A cat comes in the window one night and says the house will do whatever it can to get rid of her family. After Olive finds some spectacles, she falls into a painting of a forest and discovers each painting in her new home leads to a different place and time. Cats tell Olive "He" is watching, and their job is to protect the house. But others tell her the cats are spies and can't be trusted. The cats tell Olive her life may be in danger, but the beautiful woman in a painting says there's nothing to worry about. Olive has a bad feeling about the house, but she's determined to unlock its secrets. She finds a necklace that she can't take off and later discovers the power it possesses.

This book won the 2010 Cybils award in middle grade speculative fiction. I liked how the author developed the suspense through the characters and settings. Olive wasn't sure who to trust, so I was left wondering what was actually going on. The woman in the painting seemed pretty and sweet, but why would the cats be warning Olive if they were evil spies? Olive's character was adventurous and brave. The dark, damp, chilly basement was a very frightening place for her, but she knew she could find answers down there. The tension builds to an exciting climax after Olive unknowingly releases a dangerous character.

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