Title: The Shadow Society
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: Amazon Vine and Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 416
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.
Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.
As if she were his enemy.
When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .
In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense. (summary from goodreads)
The best part about The Shadow Society is the shadows, or Shades, as they call themselves. Shades are beings that can “ghost” — in other words, become invisible and fly around. When in their shade forms, they do not get hungry or age, and they’re invisible except for shadows that few people can see.
Shades live in a different dimension, a version of Chicago that was created after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The only problem? The humans of that dimension *hate* Shades, and try to kill them. The feeling is mutual — Shades enjoy killing humans.
So that sounds pretty interesting, right? The Shadow Society has a different premise and beasties than other paranormal books, which is a plus right off the bat. However, it wasn’t a book I enjoyed. Well, scratch that — I liked the middle, but it was bookended by a boring beginning and an anticlimactic ending.
The tagline on the cover is great. “How can you find your place in the world if you don’t know what world you’re from?” It adequately sums up the dilemma of our main character, Darcy Jones, and identifies with the reader. I know I’ve sometimes wished I was from a different world, and I can’t be the only one.
Darcy is an orphan, abandoned outside of a Chicago firehouse as a five-year-old. She’s never felt like she really fits in, and there’s a good reason for that. Darcy is a Shade living in the Alter — the real Chicago. But Darcy doesn’t learn that until about a hundred pages into the book, which makes for a slow beginning. I almost put the book down a few times, because I didn’t feel like it was going anywhere.
In that beginning, Darcy’s foster mother, friends, and the love interest are introduced. The relationship between Darcy and Conn isn’t quite insta-love, and it was nice to see a relationship actually develop, instead of them instantly declaring their undying love for each other. But it was a slog to get through.
After an action-filled middle, which almost redeemed The Shadow Society for me, the ending disappointed me. Although I appreciated the nod to friendship, I found it impossible to believe that Darcy’s friends would have been able to find her in the alternate dimension. The climax is a snooze. It promises to be full of action, with humans and Shades in conflict, but it’s not. I was left wanting a lot more.
I believe The Shadow Society is a standalone book, which is awesome in a sea of trilogies. But I wish that some of the beginning had been edited out, and more attention paid to the last third of the book, to keep from everything wrapping up way too neatly at the end.
In conclusion, I will say that The Shadow Society just wasn’t the book for me. I’d recommend checking out an excerpt if you’re thinking about reading it.
Rating: 2 owls
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