Shadowlands: Interesting Concept, But A Little Too Confusing

Shadowlands is written by Kate Brian. It was published in 2012 by Hyperion. It is the first in a trilogy. Brian’s website can be found here.

Note: I think I’m going to see if I can change the way I do spoilers. Instead of just putting spoiler in front of it, I might do a “highlight to view spoiler” thing, so it’s fairer and not as easy to spot.

Genre: Realistic, Young Adult, Supernatural


“Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived…and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a good-bye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but they haven’t gotten along for years. As the sisters settle in at Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems as if their new home maybe just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they start to feel safe, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?”

~Inside Flap


I opened my eyes, and my room came slowly into focus. Outside the window, rain had started to fall. A screen saver picture of me and my mom at the finish line of my first track meet flashed across my laptop. My blue yoga mat was unfurled on the floor from when I’d done my abs exercises, my fallen phone sitting in the center of it. A running shoe poked out from underneath my white bed skirt. Then I blinked. I could have sworn I’d left my bed unmade that morning—I’d been having nightmares ever since the attack, and it felt pointless to smooth out the sheets when I’d just wildly tangle them up each night. But now it was made with perfect hospital corners, the pillows neatly fluffed. And there, on my patchwork bedspread, was a single red rose.

For one moment, I wondered if Christopher had left it for me. A small note card was tucked beneath the rose’s thorny stem. A ragged breach caught in my throat .On the card, printed in all-too-familiar capital letters and underlined three times, were five ominous words:


~Brian 34-35

I turned and narrowed my eyes at the house, and my heart caught in my throat. Someone was standing on the porch, shaded by the wide overhang, staring down at me.

“Oh my god,” I said, angling myself away from the lurker and talking through clenched teeth. I grabbed Olive’s arm. “Someone up there is watching us.”

Olive followed my gaze. “Where?” she said, her brows furrowing in confusion.

“Right there.” Emboldened by her blatant move, I turned back around as well, but then froze. The porch was deserted. Whoever had been there, watching us, had vanished.

~Brian 171

Cover Art

Warnings: Swearing, creepy serial killer guy, violence

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Rating: 3/5

What I Liked:

So, not really that bad of a book. The writing was good, the plot was interesting, and the twist at the end was shocking. None of my questions were really answered, except for maybe a very general “What’s going on?”, so the hook for the next book is there. Steven Nell was really creepy, and I liked the realistic way that Brian portrayed Rory after Nell’s attack. Actually, I think I liked the book better before the ending Big Reveal. A story about a girl running from a serial killer is much more interesting, in my opinion, than what the book turns out to be.

I’ll probably pick up the second book when it comes out because, like I said, there’s definitely that hook from all the unanswered questions, but I’m not sure what Brian is going to do with the plot now since Nell is out of the picture (highlight to view spoiler).

Fan art from The Militant Recommender’s blog. Check it out here.

What I Didn’t Like:

It’s a little maddening not to have anything answered straight out. It can be inferred, but it can easily leave someone confused as to what precisely is going on, especially since what actually happened can be confused for something else.

Brian gets points off for portraying some of the most unrealistic, stupid police work ever. Sorry, but I don’t think that’s how Witness Protection actually works.

I’m sorry, but why is Darcy forgetting people? Why can’t there be a straight answer for once?

Overall Review:

Shadowlands is full of suspense, but also a lot of unanswered questions that might just leave you confused by the end of the book. It’s the type of book that some will love and some will hate, depending on what type of plot/genre/book you prefer. It’s got an interesting concept and will be interesting to see how the books develop, since the main motivator/conflict-causer is dealt with in the first book (with no hints [that I can tell] about a second, bigger one, as is usually the case).

Coming Up Next: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

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