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IN THE SHADOWS by Kiersten White


by Kiersten White ; Jim Di Bartolo ; illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: April 29th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-545-56144-0
Publisher: Scholastic

Teens square off against sinister immortals in an overstuffed muddle presented, Hugo Cabret–style, through an alternating mix of prose and wordless visuals.

White’s prose, created in collaboration with Di Bartolo, puts generic elements and character types together for a slow-moving tale featuring a set of bored undying. They have gathered in a small Maine town in 1900 to move the caged demon that keeps them alive to a new hidden location, in the process menacing a clutch of teenage residents. The creators offer no historical background or specific agenda for the bad guys, aside from just continuing to live. They are pursued across the decades by Arthur, dedicated to their destruction. Di Bartolo’s wordless graphic panels chronicle that quest, which takes Arthur over continents and through the 20th century into the 21st. Readers are likely to find themselves more confused than enthralled. The graphic panels are interspersed in short, episodic sections from the very beginning so that readers will have no idea how they are connected to the text until links are supplied many pages later. Moreover, the art is drawn and colored in a loose, blurry way that makes recurring figures hard to recognize (Arthur has a facial scar, but that’s no help since he doesn’t acquire it until late in the prose story), and many discrete incidents are often so compressed that the graphic portion frequently feels more like a sketchy storyboard than a story.

Ambitious but a failure both as a whole and in its parts. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 12-14)