Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
|Print List Price:||£6.03|
Save £0.04 (1%)
Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Price set by seller.
The Year of Shadows Kindle Edition
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Simon & Schuster, 2013
Recommended for grades 4-7
This year I've read around 100 middle grade texts published in 2013. With so many under my belt it is with tons of excitement that I am just now finding another favorite of the year! Last year I was introduced to Legrand through her creepy The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. That story was for older readers, and certainly not for everyone, though I did enjoy it quite a bit.
The Year of the Shadows has a much broader readership available to it than Cavendish does. I can see many of my readers getting excited over this text, and in fact I can't wait to prove myself right when I book talk it this week!
In this story we are confronted by a 12-year-old girl that harbors anger over her mother leaving, and that anger manifests itself through a lack of relationships at school, poor attention and focus in her academics, but mostly it boils over into a hatred for her father, whom she thinks is at fault.
When we meet Olivia she is forced to move into Emerson Hall where her father works as a Maestro. Along with her 80-year-old Nonnie, Olivia and the Maestro set up home as best they can, which isn't much to speak of. Trying to hide the fact that she is living in the Hall and can barely afford clothes and food, Olivia's life isn't looking up.
And then she discovers the ghosts of Emerson Hall, and everything changes. It is through Olivia and Henry, a boy she reluctantly lets into her life, that these ghosts can find peace. And at the end of this long and complicated journey there is hope for Olivia to find peace as well.
Readers will notice, and perhaps be surprised by, Olivia's feelings and actions towards her father, which are truly vile, but if you've witnessed a child dealing with a loss of a parent, it is often the one they are left with that takes the brunt of the difficult and hard to pin emotions.
As the book opens in September, Olivia, her orchestra conductor father and Italian-immigrant grandmother have been reduced to living at the back of Maestro Otto Stellatella's beloved Emerson Hall, a decrepit concert hall that's home to an orchestra that's nearly as tired as the ancient hall. Abandoned by her mother and estranged from her father, 12-year-old Olivia takes her anger out on everyone around her -- except for her beloved grandmother Nonnie and a rescued black kitten that Nonnie names Igor, for composer Igor Stravinsky. Befriended by Henry Page, a straight-A student whom Olivia imagines as living the perfect life; Joan Dawson, the school rabble-rouser; the neighboring Barskys, a Bohemian couple who own a nearby café; and a quartet of friendly ghosts, Olivia learns more about her mother, more about her father and more about herself than she ever wanted to know. Legrand packs the book with suspense -- over the fate of the ghosts, the fate of the crumbling concert hall, the fate of the Stellatella family, and, most importantly to Olivia, the fate of her absconding mother. Her depiction of the Hereafter is imaginative and well conceived.
The Year of Shadows is a must-read for readers of every age.
This is a nice, bittersweet novel about dealing with loss, moving on, and learning to open up again. Olivia is an excellently drawn character, and comes off as a real 12 year old. It’s easy to sympathize with her situation and her actions come off as very understandable, if petulant at times. The side characters are well developed as well, including Olivia’s classmate Henry and the four main ghost characters. Igor, Olivia’s cat, is also really memorable, with Olivia imagining his perfectly cat-like dialogue.
Olivia and Henry are tasked with helping the four ghosts who haunt the concert hall move on, by helping each find his or her “anchor” to the living world. This is partly accomplished by “sharing” with each ghost, a neat concept in which the ghost relives the relevant memory. There’s one weird sharing that takes Olivia and Henry to a war-torn future, as apparently ghosts don’t experience time linearly. The implications of this are never fully addressed, instead serving to help Olivia move on with her own life.
This is a good middle-grade novel, and more sweet than creepy. The ending is suitably uncertain, but the story is ultimately about Olivia, and what’s important is that she’s once again whole.
A review copy was provided through the goodreads.com first reads program.
Another really fantastic read by Claire Legrand. I really just adore her characters. They are very honest kids and I just love them. The illustrations are also great. This is a middle grade novel though so the ghosts aren't as spooky as I may have liked.
The adults aren't fleshed out well in this novel, but that's probably because it's told from Olivia's perspective and she doesn't seem to really pay too much attention to them. Her and Henry are great characters though and it was great getting not know them.
Things got weird pretty fast in this story. One minute no ghosts, the next minute lots of ghosts and other spooky things. Some things didn't play out like I had expected them to, it was nice being surprised. One thing left me a bit disappointed that it never happened though. I really enjoyed this take on ghosts and the afterlife and how time in death is different.
I really felt as though I should have been listening to classical music while reading this. It may have added to the ambience of the whole story. Unfortunately I'd pay too much attention to the music and eventually stop reading and that doesn't help the story much. If you can listen to music and read at the same time, please listen to some of the music listed in the back of this book while reading and let us all know how it is.
I would definitely check this one out if you're looking for a strange middle grade read. Claire Legrand always likes to tip the ordinary and let loose a bit of mystery from it.
"The year the ghosts came started like this: The Maestro kicked open the door, dropped his suitcase to the floor, and said, 'Voilà!'"
"I screamed into the inky storm."
The star of the show is Olivia Stellatella, a half-Italian self-professed “freak” with no friends, a broken family, and a home that barely counts. Olivia’s mom took off without a word a year ago, and her father, the conductor for the local orchestra, moved the family (Olivia, his mother Nonnie, and himself) into the back of the concert hall to save money. Already reclusive on principle, Olivia becomes downright surly as she pushes away friends and retreats deep into her sketchbook.
I loved Olivia. I loved every second of her. She’s as prickly as a porcupine with a light case of rabies, but in spite of her attitude (really, because of it), I adored her. Kids deal with loss in strange ways. Some act out. Some cling and whine. Some work extra-hard to keep those they have left close. And some, like Olivia, throw up walls and disappear. She is ombrelina, the little shadow, flitting across the upper scaffolding of the hall.
Usually, I’m pushing for the action to start, but I was blissfully content in Olivia’s head. I wanted to learn more about her moods, her thoughts, her family. That being said, when the action does start, the book gets really, really good. Olivia, it seems has been watched by a quartet of ghosts. Once they decide that she and a boy from her school, Henry, are trustworthy, they reveal themselves and ask for help. They have lost their memories of life and cannot find their anchors, precious mementos of their lives hidden somewhere in the concert hall. Without them, they cannot hope to move on to being truly dead and will become tasty prey for the shades, ghosts that have become irrevocably stuck between worlds and despise both humans for being alive and ghosts for being one step closer to life.
What a story! As much as I adored Olivia, the rest of the cast of characters are delightfully varied and interesting. Freckle-faced and seemingly perfect, Henry is part of the cool crowd, gets perfect grades, and is delightfully finicky. I can’t remember the last time I read about 1) a popular kid with red hair and freckles, 2) a boy who’s the more finnicky one, 3) a popular kid who gets perfect grades. It’s the little variations that make characters surprising and appealing. On top of his surprises, Henry is obsessed with music and a genuinely solid friend even in the time before Olivia admits that they are friends.
Even more delightful are the ghosts Olivia and Henry help. The spokesperson of the quartet is Frederick, a kindly gentleman who takes the lead by virtue of his being older than Jax and Tillie (in people years, not ghost years) and his ability to speak. Jax and Tillie are children near Olivia and Henry’s age who are unable to see or hear each other, though they often speak at the same time and say nearly the same things. All three ghosts’ stories, when we learn them, are tragic in their own ways, but none were as tragic as that of the fourth ghost, Mr. Worthington. The oldest of all the ghosts, Mr. Worthington has degenerated so far that he can barely speak. Even the effort often makes his ghostly jaw crumble and fall to the floor. Mr. Worthington, with all his sweet and kindly ways, is also my favorite.
Really, I could talk about the characters and what they mean to me all day long. Though at times I hated him for his behavior, I also felt for Olivia’s father, the Maestro. I both pitied and adored Olivia’s grandmother, Nonnie, who wears scarves day and night to cover her shaved head. There’s Joan, the precocious activist who comes and goes depending on how badly she’s scared by the ghosts. There’s Igor, who sounds like a droll Cary Grant in Olivia’s head. (For the best reading experience, do read Igor’s lines with Cary Grant’s voice. It’s hilarious.) And then other character flit in and out as needed, such as Richard Astley the trumpet player, Mr. and Mrs. Barsky, who are both delightful in their own ways, etc. etc.
I could talk about this book all day. Shadows is, in my opinion, a quieter story than Cavendish but also much deeper. I loved the details Ms. Legrand put into everything she writes. The mythology behind ghosts vs. shades and how each come to be, the mystery surrounding Olivia’s mother (which I guessed but was no less heartbreaking for the guessing), the various heartbreaks of every character, the intertwining of art and music (I marked pages to look up the pieces mentioned which I never do EVER), EVERYTHING. You want amazing little details? The different breaks in the story are marked with a fermata, which is the musical symbol for hold or pause.
Some of you may still be unconvinced. Maybe you’re comfortable with your adult or YA literature but are secretly unconvinced that anything middle-grade could ever interest you. That’s fine. Be silly if you want. I respect your right to be a snobby dunderhead. And if you do read Shadows and don’t like it, that’s totally fine, because you tried. But I will say that I was floating on a book high after I finished Shadows. And I will say that it made me truly emotional at least twice, which is somewhat of a feat. Any book that handles loss and longing as beautifully as this book deserves to be read.
Points Added For: ALL THE CHARACTERS (but especially Igor and Mr. Worthington), depth, the exquisite handling of loss, the different references to art and music throughout the book, Olivia’s attitude, Henry’s quirks, etc. etc. ad infinitum.
Points Subtracted For: Not a thing. Not a bloomin’ thing. No wait, the fact that Ms. Legrand doesn’t have another book I can read RIGHT NOW.
Good For Fans Of: Exquisite portrayals of loss and longing, ghosts, music, prickly loner characters, Cary Grant.
Notes For Parents: There are ghosts, there is a (failed) seance, there are tense family moments. Otherwise, it’s all hunky-dory.
Note: I received an e-galley of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Children's Books > Fiction > Action & Adventure
- Books > Children's Books > Fiction > Fairy & Folk Tales
- Books > Children's Books > Fiction > Family, Friends & Social Issues
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Scary Stories