The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere #1)

Title: The Shadows

Author: Jacqueline West

Series: The Books of Elsewhere

Olive has spent her life in apartments. Beige, square, comfortable apartments. But when her parents jump on a cheaply-priced and fully-furnished home, she finds herself in a place stuffed full twisted corners and other people’s odds and ends. In particular, a number of paintings that conceal their own worlds. But the home also has its secrets . . .

The most I can say for this is that it just failed to grab me. Olive is a boring protagonist most notable for liking pink kitty cereal. Given that the main antagonist was a painter, I was expecting more out of Olive’s interest in art—or her gift of crayons to Morton—but in the end none of it matters. Morton, similarly, is just there, either to annoy Olive or to enable her plans to succeed. He has a more interesting backstory and more potential, but he doesn’t have a lot of agency.

The most interesting characters are the cats, particularly Harvey, who thinks he’s various characters from classic literature and even dresses up to play the parts. I liked all the cats, though. From the overly-formal Leopold who secretly enjoys a good head scratch to the disgruntled Horatio to the probably-deranged Harvey, these are the characters who stand out. It’s just a shame the book isn’t really about them.

Also, a minor note, but one that really bugged me: Olive mentions not turning off the lights as “the worst thing you could do,” because of the environment. This is puzzling. The WORST thing she can do is waste a few dollars’ worth of electricity? Apparently lying, cheating, stealing, killing, etc, are only sort-of bad, but leaving a light on is THE WORST.

Overall, other than the cats, nothing draws me to continue what is obviously a series. All the same, it isn’t bad, just run-of-the-mill. I rate this book Neutral.


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