Text Story By: Kiersten White
Art and Art Story by: Jim Di Bartolo
Publication Info: 2014, Scholastic Press
One Line: The text tells the tale of five teens who discover something sinister and supernatural is going on in a Maine resort town one summer, but the illustrations tell a different tale altogether.
Brief Summary: A written tale intertwined with a dialogue-free graphic novel, In the Shadows tells two seemingly separate stories, until little by little, they begin to converge. The text tells the story of Cora and her younger sister Minnie, living a quiet life running a boarding house in Maine. The year is unspecified, but ragtime is popular, people drive carriages, and the girls wear dresses. Their father died a few years before, and Cora blames herself: she was caught climbing the tree of the neighborhood “witch,” and the witch told her that death would follow her. The next night, their father died. Cora
Thoughts: Beautiful graphics combined with a fun supernatural story make for a pleasurable reading experience in Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo’s unique In the Shadows. Its period setting means that the teens, although 15-18 or so, feel innocent and young, so this might be better for younger teens. However, the visual story is quite frightening, so it could easily be an enjoyable read for older teens as well. Kiersten White’s text is well-written, simple but evocative, and despite having five main characters, she gives each character enough personal characteristics to make them identifiable and endearing. The book opens with graphics – and creepy graphics, at that – to immediately set the dark and sinister mood, and there is a constant interplay between the more innocent text and these graphics, foreshadowing what we know must be coming in the story. Di Bartolo’s illustrations are vivid and detailed; you really feel as if you are at Mardi Gras in 1924 and Las Vegas in 1948. The details – such as a sepia-toned photograph on one of the walls – are exquisite. While the themes of the book are not readily apparent – perhaps protecting loved ones, but at what cost? – the story is compelling and suspenseful enough to make you want to keep reading. The end feels rushed, and some of the motivations of our main characters and the intricacies of the villains are never explained, but the book is different enough from other things out there that these faults can be forgiven.
Author Information: Kiersten White, from http://kierstenwrites.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html: “Kiersten White is the NYT bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy and the Mind Games series, as well as several standalone novels. She has one tall husband and three small children and lives near the ocean, where her life is perfectly normal. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.”
Jim Di Bartolo, from http://www.jimdibartolo.com/about-clients: “Jim Di Bartolo is a mixed media illustrator, painter, and visual storyteller. In his freelance career he has illustrated novels, comic books, role-playing games and done paintings for private commissions. His upcoming collaborative novel with New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White entitled IN THE SHADOWS will be released from Scholastic on April 29th, 2014.
He and his wife, (also a New York Times bestselling author) Laini Taylor, have collaborated on several books, and their most recent joint effort, LIPS TOUCH, was a National Book Award finalist. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and their daughter.
Chances are, he probably could use more sleep.”