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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


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.

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)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Books of Elsewhere Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.64(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.92(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years


Meet the Author

A two-time Pushcart nominee for poetry, Jacqueline West lives in Chilton, Wisconsin. This is her first novel.

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The Shadows (Books of Elsewhere Series #1) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 116 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book you wont want to put it down!!! This book is intresting I'm 10 and this is the best book I have ever read!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Dunwoody family move into a fixer upper Victorian mansion left vacant when elderly Ms. McMartin died. Eleven year old Olive finds the house odd, but her mathematical minded parents see nothing out of the ordinary starting with the inability to remove the strange drawings from the wall, but upon a closer look she sees things moving inside the paintings. Looking around the house, Olive finds glasses that she puts on for fun. Instead of blur, she realizes she enter the pictures and travel in a realm that sort of looks like her natural one, but seems shadowy and too quiet to the stunned tweener. Horatio the cat warns her not to stay too long in their world and never lose the glasses if she is on this side of the frame. Olive also meets raging Morton who claims he is from her side of the divide, but was thrown into the picture world because he knew too much. As she learns more about the house and its contents, Olive fears something evil wants to keep her silent in order for her not to reveal what the darkness wants to do to the light. With illustrations from Poly Bernatene enhancing the strong haunted house mystery, Jacqueline West provides an exhilarating middle school age tale. Fast-paced, young readers will want to join courageous Olive as she investigates the goings-on inside the painting world and the house, but is unsure who to trust with her growing concerns especially in light of her parents thinking logically that she is playing make believe. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't gotten this book yet ( :( ), but I did get it from my school library! I'm on Chapter 17 and so far, it's the BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) I TOTALLY recommend this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are you looking for a book that you cant put down?well guess what? this is the book it is very addicting and it is a great summer read! I am 11 years old and i thought that this book was very good for pepole who like adventure it is more of the wow that is so awesome than the same old same old.. i would recommend the book of elsewhere the shadows to many pepole who like action, a jaw dropping mystery ,and a good adventure . I gave this 5 stars because of how well rounded everything is. Every kid can read read this book and enjoy it . This is one of my favorite books and i hope it will be yours next!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend and I both read this book, and we really liked it. You could't tell what was going to happen, and it made everything super scary. The author is really good with descriptions, something I myself do not excell at. It was a good read, perfect for Thanksgiving break. And if you're looking at the cover wondering why that girl is wearing such weird glasses, they're not hers. You'll understand when you buy. :-) And personally, I think Olive is really pretty. Without the glasses. :-) Reviewed by: Lauren Kellie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG this book was amazing i would read it when ever i could i just couldnt put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good i have it its a strong book for young and adult readers get it now
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book last year and I could not take my mind off of the book. Every time I finished my work I'd turn it in and immediently take it out and put my nose in it. Before I read this I was always nervous about scary stuff but Jacquline made me not stop like she put a spell on it to make me never stop reading it. I highly recomend this book. Bye!
TeachingmomNY More than 1 year ago
My son loved this book and once he read the first page, he was hooked. We have already purchased the second one and are going to give it to him for his birthday!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a very mystery and good kid book! Thank you for letting me read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though these books are awesome and you should totally read them i need to talk about something else. I told this i told i told this really cute guy that i have a crush on him and he didnt respond so i just walked away. Hes not avoiding me but were not hanging out like we used to. Im worried that i might have just ruined our whole friendship! Please help me!!!! :( also these books are really great
Woodwinked More than 1 year ago
Excellent writing I am an adult, and this is my most favorite middle grade book since Harry Potter. Jacqueline West is a brilliant author. Her characters , dialogue, world building, and scene setting a beautifully flawless. I love authors who do not write down to children but produce beautiful books even parents can enjoy. My heart races while joining Olive on her adventures. This should have been a 10 book series.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im that tween that loves books and this book was amazing . This book had me on the edge of my seat . I couldnt put it down . Is a mix of new old fright discovery mystery and trust . I DARE YOU TO READ IT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome book love the rest of the series also!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is filled with mystery and adventure. I would definetly reccomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good i read when i have time im 11 and i love books now
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome has a lot of omg moments and you will not stop reading it i love this book however it is a little boring at the first then at like chapter 2 it is great one of my favorite books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG. If you don't like this book you are really cookoo. Especially the last 70 pages. It was so good ,I didnt want to put it down. GET THIS BOOK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it ..... it so awesome ages 7to 17 if you like mystery and adventure this is the perfect book for you!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lepold and harvey
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couse we want to!!!!!! Why not?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book, i said that if there was a sequal i would get it. I recommend this book to 3-5th graders to read gge book and the sequals
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg my friends said that this was the worst book tgey ever read i loved it i couldnt put it down im reading the second oh now beacuse they are so good!!!!! If u dont like this book you are a noob lol bye :3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best fricking book i have read in my life