Shadowed Summer

Shadowed Summer

4.1 21
by Saundra Mitchell

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Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.

Years ago,…  See more details below


Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.

Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the church pews. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she’s certain it’s the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to?

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book Fall Guide 2009
A Southern gothic sensibility adds a chill to this sweltering Louisiana mystery.
Midwest Book Review
A fine, spirited story.
Recommended The Bulletin
Genuinely shivery.
A perfect story. And the ending! Oh, the ending!
It stands out from other YA horror as smart.
Children's Literature - Joan Elste
The combination of fantasy, supernatural suspense, and mystery mixed in with the small town atmosphere of a boring Louisiana summer all lend a rather scary appeal to the suspense generated in Shadowed Summer. When a dead boy's spirit whispers "Where y'at, Iris?" reality mixes with mystery and dredges up memories of Iris's late mother. She is compelled to solve the mystery of Elijah Landry, a boy who disappeared one night almost twenty years ago, leaving drops of blood on his pillow. Landry seems connected to her family in some way. With the help of a Ouija board and microfiche records at the local library, which add even more mystery to the story, the ghost becomes more persistent. Iris's friendship with her testy girlfriend, Collette, and Collette's jealousy and competition for their neighbor Ben's attention, keep the boat rocking. The story is suspenseful and interesting with enough disbelief and fear in it to keep the reader glued to the pages. Until the ending, which seemed to pop up too quickly and then float away without the emotional impact the story was building. There is enough here, however, to appeal beyond its target market. Reviewer: Joan Elste
School Library Journal

Gr 7-9

Set in a small town in Louisiana, this novel revolves around superstitions, hauntings, and badly buried secrets. Iris, 14, plans to spend the summer with her friend Collette, casting spells and calling up ghosts in the local cemetery. The girls know they don't have mystical powers, but they enjoy the game-until Iris sees the ghost of a boy who asks her, "Where y'at Iris?" Convinced that he is the spirit of Elijah, a local boy gone missing a generation before, Iris sets out to uncover the truth of his disappearance. The ghost begins to terrorize her, and the town becomes angry at her digging into the past. Then Ben, whom Collette likes, joins them, causing friction between the girls. The novel climaxes with Iris awakening from a terrifying dream, certain of where Elijah is buried. Her discovery uncovers years of secrets hidden by her father, who was Elijah's best friend. Mitchell packs a lot into this novel; on the periphery of the story are hints of suicide, homosexuality, and spousal abuse that give complexity to the secondary characters living in this small town. Suggest this one to readers who like a supernatural twist to their coming-of-age stories.-Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Iris and Collette, best friends with plans to get out of their sleepy little Louisiana town as soon as they can drive, find themselves faced with some unexpected challenges in the summer of their 15th year. Although they have created and collected "spells" for as long as they can remember, neither of them is prepared for the bona fide supernatural experience of a real ghost. It haunts Iris, pursuing her until she, with some help from Collette, solves the town's most significant mystery-the disappearance of Elijah Landry, a boy who vanished from his bedroom one night, leaving drops of blood behind on his pillow. The tension strains Iris and Collette's friendship, as does the presence of Collette's first love interest, Ben Duvall, which introduces jealousy from every direction. While teen readers will appreciate the suspenseful plot and the tragic story of what happened to Elijah, they may well be put off by main characters who seem either incredibly naive or a couple of years shy of their supposed 14. (Horror. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt

chapter one
Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared. That was an incident; and being specific, it was "The Incident with the Landry Boy."

Since he never was found, it gave me and my best friend, Collette, something to wonder about, and in Ondine, wondering was about all we had to do.

According to the sign out by the highway, Ondine was home to 346 good people and 3 cranky old coots and was a good place to live, but that was a lie.

Ben Duvall's daddy hung the sign out during the evacuation. Ondine was on the way to Baton Rouge, and people seemed to think if we touched up our paint, some of New Orleans's storm refugees would stay and make this home.

Nobody stayed longer than it took to get supper, and why would they?

We had a gas station and a Red Stripe grocery store that rented DVDs for three dollars a night--they didn't have anything good.

Collette's mama regularly lost her temper over the broken grill at the diner. And Father Rey was brimstone enough that even our Baptists would sit in his pews instead of driving a town over to worship, especially if he trotted out the sermons about loving the sinner and hating the sin.

That was entertainment, and that was all we had.

When school was in, there was maybe ten of us, and we rode a bus forty minutes to St. Amant. That was different, at least, but come summer, all we had was stale movies from the Red Stripe, extra Masses, and making stuff up.

Since we couldn't drive yet, me and Collette did a whole lot of making stuff up.
Well, we used to, anyway.

Sometimes we'd be knights. It didn't matter that knights were supposed to be boys; we could ride horses and swing swords if we wanted to. Sometimes we'd be witches, or elementals, or whatever good thing we thought up or got from our library books.
We found magic everywhere, in the trees and the wind, in teacups and rainstorms. We were bigger than Ondine, better than the ordinary people who came and went and never stopped to wonder what lay underneath the church's tiger lilies to give them such bloodred hearts.

Nobody but us seemed to wonder or bother or ask about anything, and we felt strangled being the only ones. When we were twelve, Collette pricked her finger to make a vow that she'd get us out of Ondine as soon as she got her license. It made me a little dizzy to see the red beading up on her skin, but I let her poke me, too. Anybody could make a promise; we had to bind ours with a spell.

But that was used-to-be, back when we had a New Orleans to run away to, before the storm, before we turned fourteen. Fourteen changed everything.

Collette was first; she was born in February. She developed first, too. She wanted everybody to think she was embarrassed when her bra strap kept slipping down her arm, but I knew her better than that. Every time, her dark eyes darted, looking to see who'd noticed.

I turned fourteen in May, and I was just fine with the way things were. I didn't need a bra, or want one, either. Ondine wasn't any bigger, we still couldn't go anywhere, and driving was two years out yet. Our games suited me fine.

Collette, though, rewrote them some. We never played only witches anymore; somebody had to have a sweetheart. Or we had to taint apples with twisted love spells. Most important, though, we couldn't play out where the boys could see us and throw rocks.
We used to throw rocks back. But making up imaginary worlds was more important to me than arguing with Collette about her being boy-crazy, so I just went along.
After Mass, we invaded the cemetery row by row, back to the old side of the yard.

"Where y'at?" Collette asked, and helped me onto Jules Claiborne's crypt.

It was just a grayish slab box, maybe six feet long. Its top was pocked from rain, rough and nubbly, and it made our jeans catch on the surface.

Folding my legs up, I settled on the stone. "I'm fine. How are you?"

Collette looked down to make her dark curls fall in her eyes. She had good hair. There was a springy kind of coil to it that made me want to reach out and tug it, just to watch it bounce back. I always wanted hair like that, even though she said I didn't--too much trouble. I'd argue about it, though. She'd never had to suffer straight and stringy dishwater blond.

"I'm all right. But listen."

Collette had a new spell to cast; she glared and threw her hands out to catch lightning, her hair rising like a midnight halo around her head as she tried to call the spirits of the dead.

I cupped my hands behind my ears and closed my eyes. At first, I smelled more than I heard. Water and stone, overperfumed magnolias ripening with the heat. A bite of bitter cypress swirled around under that, and my stomach turned before I managed to pay attention with my ears.

To be honest, I didn't hear anything unusual: a little bit of wind, some birds, a couple of spring peepers confused about the time of day, and cicadas. Those rattled and hummed, ticking like a windup clock, then exploding with a maraca burst before starting over again.

But Collette wouldn't make a point of listening to them. Since I didn't hear anything new, I faked it. Trying to sound spooky, I barely whispered, "What is that?"

"They're trying to talk to us," Collette said, stroking the crypt top with both hands.

"We're the only ones who can hear them, Iris."

I nodded, getting into the feel of something mystical, even if I didn't know what it was. Possibility prickled at the back of my neck; it made my heart beat fast in anticipation.

A copper tang spread on my tongue, a taste that made me go all tight inside, waiting for something to happen.

Still low, I just breathed out, "Ohhh . . ."

"Can you hear them?" She always insisted that winds shifted for us, winds the rest of Ondine never felt at all.

"Uh-huh," I lied.

Collette pushed up suddenly. Turning like a weather vane, she pointed at the next crypt over and fell into her best spell-casting voice. "We have to cover their bones. You go lay over there."

In a second, I'd hopped down from Jules Claiborne's granite death-bed, and grunted my way onto his wife Cecily's. My pants caught on the frills edging her slab, but I didn't even wince when I felt the denim tear. My jeans were already short by a half an inch; a hole in the knee wouldn't matter much. Besides, the dead were talking; I wanted to listen.

Spreading myself out, I closed my eyes. "What now?"

From the Hardcover edition.

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What People are saying about this

Carrie Ryan
"I knew this was an amazing book from the first page. Even today when I go back to try and figure out which line it was that made me realize Saundra's skill, it's hard to choose. Because it's all just that good."--(Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth)
Tamora Pierce
"Tight, tense, and real--it gripped me long after I finished it! This is the best ghost story I've read in ages!"--(#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce)
Aprilynne Pike
"One of my very favorites of 2009."--(Aprilynne Pike, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wings)
Annette Curtis Klause
"A subtle and enthralling tale of innocent obsession."--(Annette Curtis Klause, author of The Silver Kiss)
Kami Garcia
Shadowed Summer is beautiful and haunting- filled with love and lies, secrets and betrayal, that play out lawlessly in a novel you will never forget. It is the best Southern Gothic I've read in years. (Kami Garcia, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Creatures)

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Shadowed Summer 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
TheBookResort More than 1 year ago
Three words... "Where y'at, Iris?" & so the chilling Shadowed Summer begins. Welcome to the world of Southern Gothic... Saundra Mitchell is quite a gifted storyteller. She knows how to transport a reader with her lush descriptive dialogue. I was tempted to reach for a cube of ice to trace it over my overheated sun kissed skin. I may reside in New York, but I definitely migrated to Ondine, Louisiana every time I opened the wickedly delectable Shadowed Summer. A parching Louisiana summer so cloying & gritty, I wanted to stroll down to the Red Stripe for a frosty mug of A&W Root Beer® & a Good Humor Lemonade Freeze®. If you like a creepy, good ghost story Shadowed Summer is definitely it, but it goes beyond "good". Shadowed Summer is an impressive standout. Saundra Mitchell has created an exceptional character in Iris Rhame. Iris is a 14-year-old young lady who isn't in a rush to become an adult. Iris is what a 14-year-old is supposed to be herself. Iris is on the cusp of leaving behind her childhood years to grow into the woman she will become as each year progresses. Saundra did a stellar job making Iris a bona fide 14-year-old growing up in a small rural Southern town. Not to knock someone's upbringing, but there are different regions in the United States & Saundra hit the jackpot w/ the nuisances of life in the South. Bravo to Ms. Mitchell for capturing Louisiana life post Katrina. She deserves accolades for that nugget alone. Thank you, Ms. Mitchell, for writing it w/ class & panache. Shadowed Summer is more than just your "typical" ghost story. It weaves a tapestry of buried secrets, superstitions, friendships & growing up. It explores the friendship between Iris & Collette from childhood to girlhood. It is a realistic look @ the depth of their friendship as they traverse the tumultuous ride known as adolescence. There were times I wanted to smack Collette. Grrr... Saundra described everything w/ exact detail I felt like I was Iris. I was a lot like Iris & my best friend, Cami ~ who was like my sister ~ was Collette. Big time! She was on the verge of thirtysomething @ 14. I was still into dreaming, riding my bike, reading & just being a kid. Cami was into the eye gunk, lip stuff & mixing it up w/ boys. Even when I was modeling, I wasn't boy crazy or into the gunk. I just wanted to laze in the sultry Long Island sun & get lost in my books & imagination. Shadowed Summer is an absorbing read w/ an unprecedented twist. The cemetery scenes were ghoulish. Loved it!!! The Southern dialect was spot on. I really felt the broiling Louisiana sun on my bronze skin. I wanted to attend a local Louisiana Swamp Thing &/or Crawfish Festival because Saundra's writing was so intrinsic. Which is funny because I don't do fish or any "swap" thing. Saundra's writing just took me there. I was blistering in the heat & chilled from the gruesome goodness. All of the characters are well written. Ben Duvall is not just an immature boy tossed in as a diversion. He is well fleshed. Enjoyable. Shadowed Summer has enough suspense to keep you on edge. Go ahead... keep your light on. Want to know about "The Incident with the Landry Boy"?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book and i was stone cold with chills
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book_Bite_Reviews More than 1 year ago
This novel just was not for me. It was too dry for my taste. I like the overall story, but I wish it would of had a nice innocent romance to it or even just being scarier. I had pretty high hopes for this novel, because it sounds like its right up my ally and I like the cover, but it just wasn't for me. I am used to the gritty, sexy, almost crossing the line YA and this novel is definitely not one of those. It is more innocent with touches of gothic. I couldn't really bond with the character that well so I really had to depend on the story. Overall it was an ok story, but it definitely wasn't a favorite. I recommend this to those who like southern gothics or those who are already fans of Saundra's.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
Even though this was small book, it was jammed packed with goodness. I really enjoyed the plot line of this book and following along with the characters to solve the mystery of Elijah disappearance. The plot line for one was good. The pacing of the plot, even better. I like that as you read the book the mystery isn't given to you right away. It makes you keep reading and you unravel the mystery of what happen to Elijah and why Iris is involved. Iris is a great characters. She has a great sense of adventure and just really dives into solving this unsolved mystery. She search for clues, ask questions, even I was getting excited at the questions she was asking. I too fell into step with Iris on her journey to find Elijah. As always, with small towns nothing it what you expect. I really like the twist of the book and the ending. In a short book, Ms. Mitchell did a great job on tying up all the loose ends. Nothing left you hanging and even the ending was bitter sweet.
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
Shadowed Summer takes place in the perfect southern, gothic setting of Louisiana in the summer, in a small town where nothing ever happens. Iris and Collette are best friends, caught in the awkward stage between growing up and playing childhood games. Their relationship, especially with the addition of a boy to the mix, is completely realistic. The author did an exceptional job of developing all of the characters in the story, making them all entirely believable. The descriptions were vivid, without being overdone, and completely pulled me into the story. The plot was perfectly paced and kept me guessing until the end, never guessing the true conclusion. While geared toward the younger side of "young adult" readers, I think fans of the genre of any age would enjoy the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EllzReadz More than 1 year ago
My thoughts...While Shadowed Summer is geared toward younger readers, I think paranormal fans of any age would enjoy this tale. Iris and her best friend Collette live in a very small southern town. Their entertainment consists of calling up spirits and writing spells in their secret notebooks. During one of their rituals, Iris calls up a real ghost by the name of Elijah who is very persistent with his demands for help. The story is about the mystery of Elijah's death. Shadowed Summer will put you on the edge of your seat. The writing in this story is exemplary. Mitchell does a great job of writing the voice of 14 year old Iris. The characters feel genuine. They experience a wide array of emotions including jealousy, betrayal, and love-each one of them believable. The character of Elijah is unpredictable. One moment you feel bad for him, the next you are afraid of him. The plot of Shadowed Summer moves at a rapid pace. I can honestly say that the book made me want to keep the light on. It has that "what's lurking under my bed" creepy quality to it. The mystery element will appeal to both genders. It is a good mystery: tons of suspects and tons of clues. There is a bit of a love story woven into the action, just enough to satisfy. This is a great one for the summer reading list.
acornucopiaoflove More than 1 year ago
hadowed Summer, Mitchell's debut, was a book that kept me in suspense from start to finish. While there were a few things that I think could have improved, I really enjoyed the story. One of the things that I most enjoyed about the book was the setting. Mitchell described summer in Louisiana in a way that made me feel as though I was there (that was pretty impressive, considering it was only 30 degrees the night I finished the book). Mitchell's description of life in a small town was excellent as well. I grew up in a small town, and I've experienced the extreme boredom that comes along with it. At least in Ondine, Iris had a few places she could spend time. I think that some of the characters could have been developed a bit more. Particularly Collette, who I thought was a bit predictable. She became jealous of Iris, and I thought it was easy to predict the conflict that would arise because of that. This book was also a fairly short read. While some people may really enjoy this aspect, I thought that more length could have allowed Mitchell to offer a bit more insight into her characters. Overall, I thought that the paranormal aspect of the book was handled extremely well. I wasn't able to figure out what had happened to Elijah, and parts of the story gave me the creeps. The plot was unique, and I appreciated Mitchell's ability to describe life in a small southern town. There were a couple issues that I had, particularly with Colette, but I thought it was a strong debut.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The summer Iris turns fourteen is sure to be hot and boring, just like every other summer in Ondine, Louisiana. But Iris is in for a shock. Her life becomes a spooky story. A ghost starts to haunt Iris and she's sure that it's Elijah, a teenager who disappeared years before she was born. What happened to Elijah, and why is he now a ghost? This is a cute story. I would say it's mostly innocent, until you get to the end. The mystery in SHADOWED SUMMER was great. I pretty much figured out what happened to Elijah by the time I got to the end, but I definitely didn't predict the "why." I really enjoyed the way the author wrote the story. She used southern language that made it seem very real. This was a quick, fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
t1g3r3y3 More than 1 year ago
this book was kind of slow at times, but other wise it was a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story line that kept me on edge. I had to put down a couple of times as it was scary and go back to it. Good characters of kids about their growing up and things you might do to keep from being bored. Didn't see the ending coming as it did.
robin_titan More than 1 year ago
Iris (very pretty name) and her best friend Collette, both around 14 years old, like to cast spells at a cemetery in their boring town in Louisiana to pass the time during the summer. One day at the cemetery, a ghost appears in front of Iris saying "Where ya at Iris?" Since then he begins to haunt her and bother her causing her to wonder who this guy is and how he ended up dead. Iris, Collette and a cute boy, Ben, try to solve this mystery all the while coming across some problems arising from their investigating. At some point, they find out that someone close to Iris may have been involved in the death of this boy. This book has an interesting and unique read. It was a bit slow for me at times, which is why I didn't give it four out of five stars. Overall I really enjoyed reading it because of the writing and story. The writing is so darn great I love it. It's simple yet awesome especially how Saundra Mitchell describes things with such interesting detail.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GirlwiththeBraids More than 1 year ago
Ondine, Louisiana, according to their population sign, is the home of "346 good people and 3 cranky old coots" and the only thing interesting about this town is that a teenager, Elijah, disappeared in 1989. For years, Iris and her best friend, Collette, have played make-believe games to keep themselves from going crazy, but this summer, something seems to have changed. Suddenly, Collette is boy-crazy and all of their make-believe games need something extra. A love triangle, a forbidden love, and now even a witch or two pretending to use creepy magic. But then, Elijah starts to haunt Iris; his ghost follows and terrorizes her. All Iris and think is, why me?

Shadowed Summer scared me to death at times. I had to leave my light on at night for two nights in a row. It gave me goose bumps and made me look twice. I loved that part. The mystery behind the disappearance of '89 was fun to follow and it was especially interesting to find clues. Talking about the book in general, I feel really comfortable and would recommend it ... but I don't see why Elijah needed to turn out homosexual. It really ruined it for me and I don't see how I can overlook that. If you think you can over look that, this is a great book to creep you out of your skin.