Pub. Date: January 2, 2018
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky!)
Summary: Emmeline has grown up with a gift. Since the time she was a baby she has been able to control shadows. And her only friend and companion is her own shadow, Dar.
Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble’s mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away.
With the noble’s guards on her trail, Emmeline’s only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline’s not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it’s hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Every generation, the Cerelia Comet makes its journey across the sky, and in doing so, graces certain infants with a gift. Emmeline was one of those infants born under the comet. Her gift, however, is viewed as a curse, something her aristocratic parents find shameful and want to suppress. Emmeline, however, sees her shadows as friends, particularly Dar, and loves nothing more than chatting away with her and being out in the forest that surrounds the estate where the two play their shadow games.
One day a pair of visitors arrive with promises of a cure. Naturally Emmeline’s parents are delighted. Emmeline, not so much. Her magic, Dar, it’s all part of who she is and Emmeline refuses to be sent away for a cure. When one of the visitors suffers a terrible attack in the middle of the night – and the sole witness insists there was just a shadow in the hall – fingers begin pointing to Emmeline. Now there’s no question about it, surely she’ll be sent to have her magic taken away. Instead, she gives in to Dar’s idea: running away. Before she was Emmeline’s shadow, Dar was a flesh-and-blood girl and if Emmeline can gather the right ingredients and perform a secret ritual, she can make Dar whole again.
And so begins Shadow Weaver the first in a duology. I’ll be honest, I think I liked the idea behind this one more than the actual book..and I really don’t know if I’m curious enough to read the second. Emmeline’s character was…strange. I don’t recall if it’s ever mentioned exactly how old she is, but I took her to be around 12. There were some scenes where her voice came across as that of an adult, the conversations she had with a family who took her in sounded stilted and forced. I’m not sure if this was the author’s attempt at an ‘old-timey’ feel?? Other times Emmeline could have easily been mistaken for a 5-year-old. Not once does she question Dar, blindly agreeing to run away, to steal. It’s not until Emmeline’s actions go too far that she realizes, oh, maybe Dar isn’t the nice, sweet bestie she claimed to be.
As this is the first half of the story, there’s not much action. Instead, it sets the tone, introducing the world and gifts (other characters Emmeline come across can control sunlight and wind) while the pace is set for the battle with the Big Baddie in the sequel. For years Lady Aisling has been taking in children under the guise of curing their abilities. No one seems to question the fact that these children are never seen again. Recently adults with gifts have vanished too. HMM!
It’s interesting, one of the authors mentioned in the afterword is one whose debut I hated. Had I known she took part in an early draft of Shadow Weaver I probably would have had second thoughts about reaching out to the publicist begging a review copy. Instead, I took my chance on a novel that sounded great only to be letdown. It’s a shame, MarcyKate’s other novels sound fantastic, now I’m left wondering if they’re going to fall short as well and be as lackluster as this one.
Sadly, Shadow Weaver didn’t live up to my expectations. I was bored to the point where it took me nearly a week to read this 300-page Middle Grade novel. Half the time I just didn’t care to pick up the book. While the world and magical abilities were intriguing, the characters weren’t all that memorable and I don’t feel invested enough to check out the sequel.