The Year of Shadows was, I think, a near miss for Book of the Month for GMGR a few years ago. I put it on my list anyway, sure that it would be picked soon… but so far, not. I read it anyway. It really exceeded expectations. It also gives me the Y for my Alphabet Soup reading challenge.
The Year of Shadows
By Claire Legrand
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother’s left, her neglectful father—the maestro of a failing orchestra—has moved her and her grandmother into the city’s dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help—if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living…and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving. [goodreads]
At first, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this. Olivia’s hurt is raw and isolating. She’s a great narrator, but she is so unkind to those who try to befriend her. She’s so real! Not surprisingly, her friends, as they become, have their own secrets. But then, maybe the ability to see ghosts does make you wonder whether you are just too strange for normal conversations. Especially when you get drawn into their world.
By the start of Part Two (of three) I was accustomed to the not-very-scary ghosts and the rather more worrying shades. It’s definitely written for Middle Grade, and at that age I have to remind myself they can take much scarier things than I can! Also by the start of Part Two, I was hooked. I was hooked by the people, the writing, the description, the disaster facing the orchestra, the musicality in it, the theatre itself. Most of all, I was hooked by the experience of sending a ghost back to its past, which was a writing device so brilliant… I have no words for it that aren’t spoilers.
So after staying up late to finish Part Two, I was desperate to get back for another late night finishing Part Three. The only thing wrong with this book is that it ends. It’s kind, caring and absolutely brilliant. And only scary to start with. I might reread it. But then again, it’s gone into the bag to go to my nieces for their summer reading.
Gripping and wonderful. If only all books were this good. Well, I’ve had a good run of them this summer!
And the illustrations are great! Look at that expression on the cover– wonderful!