Author: Jennifer Archer
Release date: April 9th 2013
Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she's with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I'm crazy.For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret.But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily's own identity.
My grandmother makes the best bean stew. (I realize this is an unusual review opener, but bear with me just a little while longer.) Yes, my grandmother’s bean stew is quite the celebrity in my family. I don’t know how she does it, although it’s not like she’s keeping it a secret… quite the opposite, in fact. She shared her recipe and showed me how it’s done many, many times. But although I’m a pretty decent cook (if I do say so myself), I always end up with something else entirely. A pretty good bean stew, yes, but the magic is simply not there. In truth, if you give five cooks the exact same ingredients, they’ll each come up with a different meal, and no more than one, if that, will be truly unforgettable.
These days, books aren’t all that different, really. No matter how many times a certain recipe is used and reused, the end result is never the same. Ten authors can use all the same tropes, and they’ll each end up with a different story. Eight out of ten resulting books won’t be worth your time, one will be moderately enjoyable, and one will shine like a comet. There’s always an author capable of making even the most (ab)used tropes work.
Jennifer Archer is one of those authors. On the surface, The Shadow Girl is really and truly a cliché fest. A recently deceased parent. A best friend in love with the heroine. A mysterious new boy in town. An agonizing (read: annoying) love triangle. A secret waiting to be revealed. I see you all waving your heads in disgust, but I promise you, aside from the horrible and unnecessary love triangle, The Shadow Girl is a great and exciting read.
I pride myself on the fact that I can guess pretty much everything these days. (Sometimes I curse myself for it, too.) But with The Shadow Girl, I made all the wrong assumptions. Despite all the foreshadowing, my guess was nowhere near the truth. Honestly, I was lucky to go into this book knowing next to nothing about it. Everything is a spoiler with The Shadow Girl, even mentioning the genre it belongs to. I strongly recommend avoiding anything even remotely spoiler-ish.
This whole experience would have been much better without the love triangle. Even I, a well known hater of divided hearts, have to admit that there are love triangles that work. However, Jennifer Archer wrote hers almost as an afterthought, a painfully predictable and tragically unnecessary thing. Let’s not kid ourselves, Lily’s best friend Wyatt never really stood a chance. Their sudden forced attraction was explained with their fear of separation, of going to college and losing each other, but while that certainly makes sense, it should have stopped the second Ty Collier showed up. It was always clear who Lily would choose, which made her constant wavering all the more aggravating.
But that is one flaw in an otherwise excellent book. Lily’s relationship with her other, Iris, was a true delight to read. This concept is perhaps not the most original, but as I wrote earlier, Archer made the best of it. Lily also struggled with her mother’s strange behavior, especially after her father died, and as the story progressed, their relationship increased in complexity, and as frustrating as it was at times, it was an essential part of the book.
I’d hate to spoil even the smallest thing for you guys, so I’ll stop here. I’d recommend downloading a sample to see if it works for you like it did for me. The first 20% should make it clear enough.