A young girl with the power to manipulate shadows must fight for her life against enemies and friends alike in this middle-grade fantasy.
Emmeline, born under the blessing of a magic-granting comet, has had an affinity for shadows since infancy. Now 12, a white girl with shadow-black eyes and hair, Emmeline has a powerful talent for shadow weaving that delights her and terrifies those around her—and it doesn’t help that her own shadow, called Dar, has a life of its own. When her parents plan to hand her over to the Lady Aisling, who promises to “cure” Emmeline and others like her of their magic, Emmeline flees, taking shelter with a family that is also in hiding to protect their son, who can command light. Lagging under the yoke of exposition as Emmeline and Dar’s longtime intimacy steadily falls foul, the narrative culminates in a stampede of an ending in which Emmeline realizes how much she has been manipulated by one closest to her. The interplay of light and dark and the moral ambiguity threaded through Connolly’s worldbuilding are everything readers have come to expect from the author of Monstrous (2015), but despite efforts to push against the tired synonymy of darkness and evil, the effect is compromised by a key revelation.
Fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak (2015) will find much the same chills and sequel-primed mystery here. (Fantasy. 10-14)