Books and Thoughts: SHADOW
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
About the Book
Author: Kara Swanson
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release date: July 13, 2021
Peter Pan has crash-landed back on Neverland. But this is not the island he remembers.
Desperate to rescue Claire and the fractured Lost Boys, Peter must unravel what truly tore his dreamland apart. But with each step, he is haunted by more of his own broken memories. Not even Pan himself is what he seems.
Claire Kenton is chained to a pirate ship, watching the wreckage of Neverland rocked by tempests. When she finally finds her brother, Connor is every bit as shattered as the island. Claire may have pixie dust flowing in her veins—but the light of Neverland is flickering dangerously close to going out forever.
To rescue Neverland from the inescapable shadow, the boy who never grew up and the girl who grew up too fast will have to sacrifice the only thing they have left: each other.
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About the Author
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent her childhood running barefoot through the lush jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the fantasy genre. The award-winning author of The Girl Who Could See, Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, connecting with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order. Kara chats about coffee, fairytales and bookish things online (@karaswansonauthor) and at karaswanson.com.
I really wanted to like this more, but there were some things that just didn't work for me.
Shadow is a very dark book, which I think is good for certain times and people. However, I felt like 90% of the story was so terrible and hopeless, that it desensitized me to the happenings. I really wished we had more relief in between all the horror.
The solution at the end didn't make that much sense to me either, and I wish we'd gotten more of an explanation for why things turned out well when darkness had won. Multiple times. Also it felt like there were too many villains, and every time one was "defeated," another one would show up out of nowhere. It just became confusing and noisy.
However, I still liked a lot. Peter's growth was natural and beautiful, and Claire had become so great after the last book. Swanson has a way with words and paints thrilling images that plunge us into her story. I especially loved the scenes with Lily and her people, and the ending was sweet.
I know everyone always talks about packing in action so the reader doesn't get bored, but I think this book would be a true gem if we'd been able to take a breath every now and then and enjoy the beautiful, broken world Swanson crafted.
More from Kara
One of my favorite CS Lewis quotes is this:
“Some day you’ll be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
There’s something subtly profound about the idea that the very stories which captivate our
imagination and shape our perspective on good and evil as children, will reveal more gems when we return to them later. When we’ve conquered some dragons of our own.
This was especially true when I write my Peter Pan retelling duology Dust and Shadow. These YA novels literally return to a fairy tale. I took a familiar story and dug even deeper, pushing Peter himself to grow a little more and see what new bits of pixie dust and hope there may be in a familiar story.
But there is another reason why our hearts gravitate toward fairy tales.
I think GK Chesterton put it brilliantly in a quote that is actually at the very front of Shadow:
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
Because maybe even more than being reminded of the whimsy of a fairy, we need the reminder that even in a world filled with dragons – they can be killed.
We can conquer.
And that simple truth, told a hundred different ways, will always lift our hearts and our chins.
Shadow was not an easy book to write – and it is not a particularly lighthearted tale. It is raw and vulnerable and at times lives up to it’s title in some darker moments. But there is always a sense of courage there too. A reminder that even in the shadowed places, the valleys, the instances that steal our breath and twist our hearts and make us wonder if all is lost –
There is another page to turn. Another step to take.
We are not finished.
No matter how young we are, we can strap on our armor, lift our swords, and fight for the light.
We are not overcome because our strength does not come from us.
It comes from our King.
And in the end, He will make all wrongs right, and there will be a happy ending to our tale, even if it may not be the ending we expect.
Because it may not be easy to slay the dragon, but as the fairy tales do remind us –
The important thing is that they can be slain.