The Shadows - Jacqueline West



Ms. McMartin was definitely dead.

- Opening sentence


Something was moving inside the painting, a tiny white shape flitting between the silhouettes of the wiry trees.

- Chapter 2


She couldn't leave the basement lights on all day, with the environment already in such bad shape.

- Chapter 3


"A house doesn't belong to someone just because it has been paid for. Houses are much trickier than that."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, this house belongs to someone else. And that someone may not want you here."

- discussion between Olive and Horatio (a cat)

Chapter 4


Olive owned six pairs of slippers, but none of them were ever where they belonged. This was because Olive's body often did things without consulting Olive's brain, which was usually busy with something much more interesting than putting things away in the right place. A second pair of socks would have to do.

-Chapter 9


Olive's parents are both mathematicians and Olive, well her grades in math are "lackluster". Let's just say that Olive's parents don't understand her. When they move into the house, Olive can sense something strange. She sees things moving in the paintings. Then a mysterious cat appears and starts talking to her about someone who doesn't want them there. After Olive finds a pair of spectacles and discovers she can enter the paintings, things only get more dangerous and exciting.


When I read the part about Olive's body doing things without consulting Olive's brain, I laughed out loud. That must be why I can never find things, my brain is too busy with more important things like thinking about books. ;)


This is a fantastic fantasy adventure. Olive is a strong, brave girl, who doesn't back down when faced with some crazy circumstances. The book reminded me a lot of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. But West puts a new spin on the idea that makes this book a fun read in its own right. 


I will continue to read this series. I am excited to see where West takes Olive, Horatio, Harvey and Leopold next (Those are the three talking cats, btw).


Recommended to:

Readers ages 9-12 who like magical adventures.