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Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows

5.0 2
by Swati Avasthi, Craig Phillips (Illustrator)

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“A superb novel about grief, friendship, and mental illness, mixing in graphic-novel elements and themes from Hindu mythology.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
Corey, Holly, and Savitri are closer than family until a random act of violence shatters their world. A gunman shoots at their car, leaving Corey dead, Holly


“A superb novel about grief, friendship, and mental illness, mixing in graphic-novel elements and themes from Hindu mythology.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
Corey, Holly, and Savitri are closer than family until a random act of violence shatters their world. A gunman shoots at their car, leaving Corey dead, Holly in a coma, and Savitri the sole witness to the crime.
When Holly wakes up, she is changed—determined to hunt down Corey’s killer, whatever the cost. Savitri fears that Holly is running wild, losing her grip on reality. Friends should stand by each other in times of crisis. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?
Swati Avasthi delivers a riveting novel that will appeal to fans of Laini Taylor and Laurie Halse Anderson.
“Haunting, mesmerizing and intense.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“[A] visceral story of love, grief, and madness that is both action-packed and psychologically acute.” —The Horn Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Avasthi (Split) delivers a superb novel about grief, friendship, and mental illness, mixing in graphic-novel elements and themes from Hindu mythology. When Holly’s twin brother, Corey, is murdered after a free-running session, Holly and her best friend Savitri (Corey’s girlfriend) are shattered. Savitri reconsiders her plans to leave Chicago to attend Princeton, while Holly, who was also wounded in the attack, has visions of a snake god named Kortha holding her brother hostage in the afterlife. The investigation into the murders is also wreaking havoc on Holly’s parents (especially her police officer father), and a subplot about the friendship between Savitri and Holly’s ex Josh adds depth to the story. Holly’s visions, as well as some real-world action, are told in striking illustrated sequences from Phillips, reflecting Holly’s diehard love of comics and her increasingly uncertain grip on reality. More significantly, Avasthi avoids any pretense of easy, happy answers or shortcuts, offering a painful and realistic vision of the aftershocks of a horrific moment of violence. Ages 14–up. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
High school seniors Holly, Corey, and Savitri are long-time best friends and now Savi and Corey are a couple. All of them are passionate about the sport of free running, and make the city of Chicago their playground as they climb walls, leap between rooftops, and push the envelope of their strengths—and fears. Out of the blue, a lone gunman who shoots the twins in their car while Savi looks on helplessly from a block away shatters their lives. Corey is killed. Holly is put into an induced coma to deal with potential brain swelling from a non-fatal shot to her head that fractured her skull. While in the coma, Holly enters the Shadow Lands with Corey and is forced to leave him behind, a prisoner of a mythical half-man, half-snake named Kortha. When Holly regains consciousness, she is hearing a voice in her head that says she has the power to bring Corey back. Vowing that they will survive Corey’s death together, Savi sticks by Holly in spite of Holly’s increasingly irrational behavior and her obsessive hunt for Corey’s killer. They find the gunman and Savi nearly kills him, but Holly stops her. Holly’s madness nevertheless continues to spiral out of control and nearly gets Savi killed before Holly is committed to the hospital’s psychiatric ward. All the scenes where Holly is visiting the nightmarish Shadow Lands are conveyed primarily through short graphic novel sequences, interspersed in the story and the text. Tough questions about what it means to be someone’s friend are at the heart of this fast-moving and compelling story. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.; Ages 15 up.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-01
Two friends alternate narration and struggle with grief and trauma after a violent murder. Freerunners who fearlessly climb and jump through the city as an urban obstacle course, Holly, Savitri and Corey are nearly inseparable--Holly and Corey twins, Savitri and Corey dating, Holly and Savitri best friends. But then a gunman murders Corey and gravely wounds Holly. Comatose Holly dreams that a snake man, Kortha, claims Corey for the Shadowlands. Phillips' masterful dream illustrations, marked by fluid, bold lines and strong angles that create impeccable clarity and movement, provide intermittent graphic-novel segments. The strategically deployed illustrated sections pack major narrative and emotional punches. Upon waking from her coma, Holly can't let go of her dreams. She latches onto her favorite comic-book character, a vengeance-bound superhero named Leopardess. Meanwhile, Savitri struggles to support the ever more distant and erratic Holly at the cost of dealing with her own needs. The two desperately try to make meaning of Corey's death and find his killer. The girls are sympathetic in different ways, and their development as characters is natural, logical and seamless. Avasthi deftly weaves story elements and narrative techniques--two narrators, the graphic portions and even a flawlessly executed second-person passage--to create a rich portrait of friendship and the depths of reality-shattering grief. Haunting, mesmerizing and intense. (Graphic fiction hybrid. 13 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 5, 2013:
"Avasthi (Split) delivers a superb novel about grief, friendship, and mental illness, mixing in graphic-novel elements and themes from Hindu mythology."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2013:
"Haunting, mesmerizing and intense.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, November 2013:
“Fans of Cecil Castellucci’s Year of the Beasts will especially appreciate this book’s themes and its hybrid format that alternates chapters…in both compelling text and adept black-and-white graphics–graphics that ultimately deliver a sad and powerful twist.”

School Library Journal
★ 11/01/2013
Gr 8 Up—Teen twins Holly and Corey, children of a Chicago police officer, are fast friends with Savitri, who is also Corey's girlfriend. One night after the three complete a challenging freerunning session, Savitri witnesses a hooded shooter targeting Corey and Holly in their car. Corey is killed and Holly is hospitalized in a coma. Devastated, Savitri diligently attempts to revive Holly and tries to identify the shadowy murderer, perhaps someone seeking revenge against the twins' father. When Holly finally awakens, Savitri realizes that her friend has changed. She refuses to accept her brother's death and slips into a downward spiral of delusion through which she believes she can rescue him from a fantasized Shadowlands, inspired by the Hindu myths she learned from Savitri. Savitri, determined to heal Holly, even considers turning down her acceptance to Princeton to stay close by. When Holly's deteriorating mental health begins to directly impact Savitri and puts her very life in jeopardy, Savitri must make important choices between friendship, loyalty, and survival. Fans of Cecil Castellucci's Year of the Beasts (Roaring Brook, 2012) will especially appreciate this book's themes and its hybrid format that alternates chapters from Savitri's and Holly's points of view in both compelling text and adept black-and-white graphics-graphics that ultimately deliver a sad and powerful twist.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.10(d)
HL630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

SWATI AVASTHI is the author of the highly acclaimed novel Split, winner of the IRA Book Award and the Cybils Award. Ms. Avasthi received her MFA from the University of Minnesota and currently teaches in Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Visit her at swatiavasthi.com.
CRAIG PHILLIPS is an award-winning illustrator whose work has appeared on book jackets, in publications like Rolling Stone, and on tour posters for bands, including the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He lives in New Zealand with his family.

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Chasing Shadows 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow....what a read! A great plot and a beautiful story. Don't skip oveer anything, everything is important in the book. Seven times down, eight times up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extraordinary! Don't let the graphic novel bits deter you from this fabulous read; trust me, those images are essential and very much worth it! I have yet to read anyone else who has successfully managed this format with such stellar plot and characterization. A great novel for teens and adults alike!