Title: “The Shadow Girl”
Author: Misty Mount
Pages (eBook): 300 pages
Original Publishing Date: 29 December 2017
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the ‘in between’ world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped ‘in between’ forever.”
Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:
- panic/anxiety attacks
- mentions of suicide and suicidal ideation
- disordered eating
Representation in the novel:
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*
So, uh, I was given this copy back in January…and I’m just now reviewing. Whoops. Anyway.
The Shadow Girl is an urban fantasy/supernatural novel following Zylia, a lonely thirteen-year-old girl, through her daily life at school and home. She is part of a large family and is often forgotten about. It is not until a new girl, Terra, comes to town that Zylia finally begins to feel seen. However, something is amiss: sometimes, it really feels like people not only forget about Zylia, but physically do not see or hear her, even when she is right in front of them. She has to figure out what to do, or else she might disappear forever.
As far as characters go, I really felt for Zylia. She is young and already feels so lonely. She feels left out by nearly everyone — her classmates, her teachers, her own family. It was a bit of a struggle to read through her thoughts, mostly because I felt what she did at her age. Not only this intense loneliness, but extreme social anxiety as well. It is not outright said that Zylia has social anxiett, but the signs are all there. At least, for me they are.
I liked Terra, too. While she seems a little brash at times, her head was in the right place. I think she and Zylia balance each other out: she gets Zylia (safely) out of her comfort zone, and Zylia cautions her when she is being headstrong. To be quite honest, I really thought Zylia had a crush on her throughout the novel, but I guess not.
Her family is pretty eclectic, too. She shares a room with Ivy, the youngest, who also seems to be the most introspective out of all of them. There are two twin boys who seem to be the trouble makers; Adonia, the teen sister wishing for more popularity, and Keane, the nerdy brother. She also has a grandmother with dimentia and both her parents. However, outside of these particular traits, the characters are pretty flat. The most nuanced one is probably Zylia’s mother, and even then, it mostly goes back to how she is stressed and worried over Zylia’s grandmother.
When it comes to the plot, it was alright. Nothing too spectacular, but nothing horrible either. Even thought the plot did not feel like it started moving until about 60% through the book, it was still a (mostly) enjoyable, easy read. For the most part, nothing much happens. However, I do have a few issues. The first is the ableism surrounding the grandmother’s dementia. I understand that the story is told from a young teen’s perspective and that she probably has absorbed a lot of society’s ableist ideas, but still. The grandmother was constantly described as “crazy” and was often dealt with as if she was a nuisance. I…was not fond of it.
On top of that, there is also a side plot of Zylia wanting to befriend a fellow classmate, mostly because she thinks she is the only one to understand her and, in turn, “help” her because she saw her grab a suicide/self-harm resource flyer from a bulletin board. The biggest issue I have with this side plot is the thought process Zylia goes through. She thinks this girl and her are similar in that they are both lonely, the girl to a dangerous extent if she picked up the resource page. Because of this, Zylia believes that she is the only one able to help “cure” this girl. Which…no. Befriending someone will not make them non-suicidal or non-depressed. the young protagonist coul think this, obviously, but the thought process is never challenged. It can be harmful, to both the mentally ill person and the person trying to “help”.
The ending also seemed a bit rushed, and I felt that there were a few things left without being wrapped up. However, overall, I still enjoyed the book, even if it did have its mishaps.
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