The Shadows (Books of Elsewhere Series #1)

The Shadows (Books of Elsewhere Series #1)

4.7 118
by Jacqueline West
     
 

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For fans of Pseudonymous Bosch, Coraline, and Septimus Heap comes the first book in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Books of Elsewhere series.

This house is keeping secrets . . .

When eleven-year-old Olive and her parents move into the crumbling mansion on Linden Street and find it filled with mysterious paintings, Olive knows

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Overview

For fans of Pseudonymous Bosch, Coraline, and Septimus Heap comes the first book in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Books of Elsewhere series.

This house is keeping secrets . . .

When eleven-year-old Olive and her parents move into the crumbling mansion on Linden Street and find it filled with mysterious paintings, Olive knows the place is creepy—but it isn’t until she encounters its three talking cats that she realizes there’s something darkly magical afoot. Then Olive finds a pair of antique spectacles in a dusty drawer and discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside the house’s spooky paintings to a world that’s strangely quiet . . . and eerily sinister. But in entering Elsewhere, Olive has been ensnared in a mystery darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. With only the cats and an unusual boy she meets in Elsewhere on her side, it’s up to Olive to save the house from the shadows, before the lights go out for good.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Poet West's debut novel is a quirky and clever beginning to the Books of Elsewhere series. The Dunwoodys, "a pair of more than slightly dippy mathematicians," and their 11-year-old daughter, Olive, have just moved into an old Victorian house. Olive has learned to be independent, given her parents' aloofness ("Her persistently lackluster grades in math had led her parents to believe that she was some kind of genetic aberration"). She explores the house's eccentricities and discovers that, by donning a pair of spectacles, she can enter the house's many unsettling paintings. Inside one, she encounters nine-year-old Morton, who brings to her attention the secrets that the house and its late owner are keeping. With the help of three talking house cats, Olive works to patch together clues to save the painting-dwellers from their dark fate. The house is as much a character as are Olive, Morton, and her family, and a wicked sense of humor tempers the book's creepiness. A suspenseful plot and insight into childhood loneliness--handily amplified by Bernatene's moody and dramatically lit b&w illustrations--will have readers anxiously awaiting the next book. Ages 9-11. (June)*STARRED REVIEW*
Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
A delightful concoction of quirky humor blended with a rumbling ominous undertones, this will be a hit with young fantasists.
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Eleven-year-old Olive Dunwoody is often left to her own devices as her math professor parents spend time on their equations. She spends her time exploring their new home which this time is an old house full of antiques instead of the usual bland apartment. Olive realizes something strange is going on when she sees movement in the paintings that cover the walls. After finding a pair of old spectacles, she discovers that she can actually enter the paintings, explore the worlds she finds, and speak with the inhabitants. One of these dwellers, a young boy named Morton, swears that he really belongs on the outside in Olive's world. A beautiful lady in a portrait invites Olive to tea and befriends her. Horatio, Leopold, and Harvey, the magical speaking cats, seem to be protecting old secrets and she does not trust them. After she helps the beautiful lady escape her portrait, Olive realizes her mistake and during one terrifying night learns the secrets of the old house and its former inhabitant, Aldous McMartin. Black and white illustrations enhance the story. Fans of the seriously creepy will love this first volume in "The Books of Elsewhere." Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Jacqueline West's debut novel (Dial, 2010) follows a young girl's intriguing and thrilling adventures as she enters the fantasy world of Elsewhere. Olive, 11, spends much of her summer exploring her family's new home. The previous owner of this crumbling Victorian mansion died and left everything in the house to the new owners. Olive discovers a pair of spectacles that allow her to dive in and out of the mysterious paintings that fill the old home. Three talking cats seem to be helping and protecting Olive, but as she begins to put more puzzle pieces together, she realizes that she may be in some danger and the eccentric cats are not to be trusted. Narrator Lexy Fridell maintains a quick pace as the suspense builds. She gives all the characters distinct and interesting voices, especially those peculiar cats. Fans of Neal Gaiman's Coraline will find many appealing similarities with the story, and listeners who like a fast-paced adventure will enjoy this audio version.—April Mazza, Wayland Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Preoccupied parents, a solitary young girl, talking cats-sound familiar? Unfortunately for debut author West, not only has this been done before, it's been done better. Still, the premise is intriguing. Magical spectacles enable the wearer to enter the worlds captured in paintings created by an evil, long-dead wizard. "Captured" isn't just a figure of speech: At least one young boy has been turned into a painted replica of himself. Another painting, that of the wizard's (also dead) granddaughter, comes creepily to life. In general, though, the action is sluggish and the ominous atmosphere contrived. Characterization is skimpy at best. Olive's parents adore math. Olive doesn't. The cats are pompous, imaginative and martial, respectively. Ironically enough, it's not just the supernatural effects that fail to convince. Would parents, even those utterly obsessed with their own intelligence and interests, really leave their 11-year-old home alone overnight? The fact that they do precipitates Olive's final confrontation with the wicked wizard. Unfortunately readers probably won't care much about who wins nor about the possibility of volume two. (Fantasy. 10-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142418727
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
06/14/2011
Series:
Books of Elsewhere Series, #1
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
63,985
Product dimensions:
4.88(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.74(d)
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

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