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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Shadowlands by Kate Brian [Review]

Young Adult, Thriller, Paranormal, Mystery
Publication.Date  January 8th 2013
Published By:  Disney Hyperion
WebsiteKate Brian

Shadowlands on Goodreads
My review copy:ARC of the book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye. 

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?


I climbed the stairs, sand down on the bed, and stared up at the wood-beamed ceiling with a sigh. So this was it. This was my new life. With my family but entirely alone. At least something about this place was familiar.
Not dead, he prayed as he slipped deeper into the oncoming darkness. Please don't let her be dead. If she was not dead, here was still a chance. If she was not dead, he would find a way. He always, always found a way.
"I told you I'd get you," he rasped once more, a small smile flitting across his bloody lips.  

     Shadowlands is like a jigsaw puzzle - even though you try very hard to figure it out, you don't get to see the whole picture until the very end. And the pieces of this particular puzzle snap together even more tightly when you read the book the second time. Reading it is a phenomenal - I'd even go as far as to say diabolical - experience. It grips you from the opening lines and the ever-increasing tension never lets up. In the end, you're left completely breathless, confused as hell and eager to start from the beginning to try and figure out what in the world have you just read. 

     The story centres around Rory Miller, a teenage girl who somehow miraculously survived an attack from a serial killer. The killer - who also happens to be her teacher - have been watching her for months, obsessing over everything she did and said. And now he's determined to finish what he started. 

    After her brush with death, Rory and her family are sent away to a Juniper Landing (a small vacation town on a remote island) as part of a witness protection program. But what was supposed to be a fresh start quickly turns into yet another nightmare. The town is creepy. Weird and unexplainable things are happening, people act very suspiciously and it all adds up to a very disturbing and deeply bone-chilling picture. Things get even more intense when a local girl disappears without a trace and Rory catches glimpses of someone following her, someone who looks exactly like her former teacher. 

     Kate Brian evokes Rory's paralysing fear, pain and disorientation quite brilliantly. I couldn't help but to feel thoroughly creeped out - I swear I had goosebumps on my arms half of the time (must be some sort of a record!). The first person narrative only enhances the dream-like, foggy quality of this book, as the heroine herself doesn't have a clue what is happening, what's real and what's just her imagination playing tricks on her, causing her to see the person who almost ended her life around every corner. Is she losing her mind? Is she growing more and more paranoid? Is it shock? Fear? Or is something really happening? Is she in real danger here? Well, you can wreck your brain as much as you want, you'll never actually be able to guess what the big twist is! I was completely blown away reading the final pages of this novel. Not only did I not see it coming, I felt like someone just dropped a bucket of ice-cold water on my head. Multiple times. 

   I really connected with Rory, though I can't say that about any other characters in this book. I simply did not care for anyone else except the lead heroine. She stole the spotlight, her feelings and thoughts were completely absorbing. One thing for sure, I strongly disliked Rory's sister, Darcy. I couldn't stomach her whiny, annoying character. I hated how she always wanted to be the centre of attention, how she made everything about her, as if she was the only one affected by the situation. She was difficult, self-absorbed and downright unlikeable. As the story progresses, we learn more about her and some of the reasons behind her behaviour and attitude, but for me that just wasn't enough to redeem her in my eyes. One thing I really loved, though? The occasional glimpses into the twisted mind of the serial killer. They were incredibly well-written, thoroughly blood-chilling and shocking. 

    Overall this story is a total winner. Kate Brian's prose is nothing short of amazing - everything she describes feels too real, too convincing not to be totally freaked out. The author literally takes your hand and leads you straight into darkness, into world that is both intriguing and terrifying. Shadowlands is filled with sadness that wraps itself around you like a blanket and eventually breaks your heart into pieces. This mind-bender of a book is absolutely not to be missed.

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