Shadows is Robin McKinley’s latest entry into the fantasy genre she’s worked in for over 20 years. For those familiar only with her earliest work—Beauty and The Hero and the Crown—this is something of a departure. Shadows moves far more quickly than the earlier work, probably to meet the demands of a changing readership, and therefore lacks the tapestry of details created in the beast’s castle. The story, however, remains engaging and well-woven.
Shadows protagonist is Maggie, a 17 year-old high school senior with a huge, much maligned algebra book and a stepfather who disgusts her even more. Her best friends, Jill and Taks, specialize in driving beaten-down cars while gossiping about cute boys or being geeky while folding intricate designs in origami. Maggie’s other pals are a Border Collie named Mongo and Claire, who runs a shelter just out of town where Maggie works with animals. And so Maggie’s life seems to be that of a relatively normal teen.
But then Maggie thinks she can see spiky, many-footed shadows swarming around her new stepfather. Jill mentions that she’s pretty sure something really bad is going to happen, and soon. And the army starts to spend way too much time investigating disturbances right in Maggie’s part of town. Soon Maggie will have to draw on talents she didn’t know she had, rethink her assumptions, and gather her friends around her as her world starts to literally tear asunder.
This book would be appropriate for readers in middle school or high school and could easily be enjoyed by girls and boys. Readers who enjoyed the slower-paced, more intricately detailed earlier work of this author will probably still enjoy this book, and readers who are younger or more reluctant will definitely enjoy the pace.