Monday, June 16, 2014

In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim Di Bartolo

Title: In the Shadows
Author: Kiersten White
Artist: Jim Di Bartolo
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: April 29, 2014

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.
- Summary from Goodreads.

The written story is interjected with intervals of pictures which tell a different story. Is there any dialogue in these pictures?
No, there is absolutely no dialogue at all. There's a chapter of pictures and then a chapter of the written story following the main characters. The only text contained in the pictures is the date of the event, the occasional letter, and things in the background to add flavor to the world (keep a look out for the Albatross).

Was it confusing, and was it easy to push past your confusion?
I was confused at first. In the beginning I would study each picture closely, afraid that I would miss the story they contained or just wouldn't understand. Eventually that fear vanished and I would go back and look over the pictures just to enjoy them, and to solidify the clue I had just discovered about the mysterious character.
Another bit of confusion comes from wondering how the story in the pictures and the story in the text were going to fit together because at first, second, thirty-second glance they don't seem to connect much at all. Once I fell in love with the book I accepted that I wouldn’t know how it all connected until the authors wanted me to.

What makes this book stand out besides the addition of the pictures?
Firstly, I am just in awe of how the pictures and text work so well together. I hoped they would, but, between you and me, I didn't have high expectations. I was wrong. They put together such an amazing story with a great plot and one heck of a punchline.
Secondly, I loved the group dynamics of the characters and how they worked together. They are not perfect characters and a lot of the times they don't all get along, but the group was interesting. The two younger characters were outgoing, cheerful, curious people who get into plenty of trouble. The two older characters were the responsible ones looking out for their younger sibling. And then there's the quiet and mysterious fifth wheel who watches out for the sisters, and tries to keep them out of trouble and, *gasp*, danger.

Was the world developed well, or was a lot of it very much a mystery?
It doesn't take place in a faraway world, the majority of it is set in the early 1900's. While the time period does add flavor to the story it is not a foreign fantasy world that needs plenty of development. The world isn't a main part of the story, it is only what the characters make of it.

Do you have any favorite characters?
At the beginning I didn't have a favorite character. I liked them all, but there wasn't one character that really stood out to me. Then about half-way through the book I realized how totally awesome the guy in the pictures was and he became my favorite character.

Would you read it again?
Heck yeah! I love this book! I'm just waiting for a bit more time to pass before I pick it up again.

Questions by Sarah
Answers by Christina

We're trying a new format for book reviews for when only one of us has read the book. By using this format we're hoping to clear up some common questions that a reader might have when deciding whether or not to read a book. This blog is still a work in progress, so tell us what your opinion is in the comments.

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