From the Publisher
“A sexy, mysterious, and above all, surprising romance between a wonderfully fierce heroine and the last person on earth she should ever love. I devoured this book in one day . . . desperate to finish it, but just as desperate for it never to end.” Robin Wasserman, author of The Book of Blood and Shadow
“A gripping and intelligent thriller . . . Filled with literary and artistic allusions, the action-packed narrative poses thorny ethical questions as Darcy wrestles with bigotry, identity, belonging, and love.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The author builds an engaging world, similar to the real Chicago but different enough to tantalize and keep interest high. Entertaining and provocative.” Kirkus Reviews
“Containing a fantastic plot, realistic characters and two vivid but fundamentally different worlds, Rutkoski's novel is ultimately about family--what it is and who defines it. You'll stay up late reading, and you can't skip to the end to know what happens: There is too much you would miss.” RT Book Reviews
“Just when they thought there was nothing original left in the paranormal romance genre, readers meet Darcy Jones. The fantasy is neatly tied up with the science fiction and an impossible romance, making this an excellent choice for readers of multiple genres.” School Library Journal
“An interesting premise.” VOYA
“Fans of supernatural romances will be pleased to find one that is both appropriately steamy and well written.” BCCB
Rutkoski returns with a gripping and intelligent thriller, invoking the kind of space-time twists familiar to fans of her Kronos Chronicles. Sixteen-year-old Darcy Jones remembers nothing of her life before she was abandoned in front of a Chicago firehouse at age five. Since then, Darcy has lived in multiple foster homes, accumulating a thick behavioral file. Just as things are stabilizing for Darcy—she’s honing her talent for art and has a loyal group of outsider friends—an intense new boy at her high school, Conn McCrea, fixates on her. Not just a love interest, Conn also presents a real threat as he reveals that Darcy is actually a Shade, an ethereal creature who can “ghost and manifest” (disappear and reappear). Conn takes Darcy from “the Alter” (her Chicago) to a parallel version of the city where Shades operate as terrorists and live in a Shadow Society. Filled with literary and artistic allusions (some of which diverge in the dual Chicagos), the action-packed narrative poses thorny ethical questions as Darcy wrestles with bigotry, identity, belonging, and love. Ages 12–up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Oct.)
VOYA - Elizabeth Norton
Darcy has no memory of her life before she was abandoned outside a Chicago fire station at age five. Now sixteen, she has been in many foster homes and has been labeled a problem case by the DCFS, so she is happy to be attending Lakebrook High School for the second year in a row. On the first day of school, she meets--and falls for--handsome new student Conn McCrae. Then, Conn arrests her. It turns out that Darcy is a Shade, part of a race of supernatural beings who live in an alternate dimension where the Great Chicago Fire never happened. Shades have been killing humans en masse for centuries, and Conn works for the Interdimensional Bureau of Investigation, whose job is to contain them. The only way for Darcy to stay out of prison is to infiltrate the Shade world and inform the IBI about the Shades’ plans for their next attack. Although it is an interesting premise, Rutkoski’s novel lacks in execution. The setting, particularly the Shade world, is not fully realized or described. Shades are able to ghost, or become incorporeal at will, but otherwise they have very few defining characteristics. The characters, including Darcy and Conn, are one dimensional. Given the security patrols at all entrances to the Shade world, the appearance of Darcy’s friends there near the end of the book is particularly far-fetched, and Darcy’s foster mother is far too willing to accept her Shade identity. Purchase for libraries with large supernatural fiction collections. Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Just when they thought there was nothing original left in the paranormal romance genre, readers meet Darcy Jones. She is 16, an artist, a loyal friend, not exactly popular, and she's been in the foster-care system since she was found abandoned at the age of 5. Rich with the history and geography of Chicago, Rutkoski's novel weaves a complex new world for readers. Darcy doesn't know it, but she's part of a race called the Shades, who have abilities beyond those of humans and are afraid of only one thing: fire. They are part of a terrorist organization called the Shadow Society, which is intent on killing humans. They live in an alternate version of Chicago. It is a dimension in which the Great Fire of 1871 never happened and the Shades and humans have been hostile to and suspicious of one another for generations. The fantasy is neatly tied up with the science fiction and an impossible romance, making this an excellent choice for readers of multiple genres. Although the ending may be too perfect for some, it manages to bring the pieces of the story back together with unexpected and satisfying ease. Questions are answered, and the future looks bright. Although rough seas may be ahead, there is no doubt that Darcy will weather the storm.Genevieve Gallagher, Charlottesville High School, VA
In a multidimensional Chicago, Darcy learns that she isn't really human after all. Abandoned at age 5, Darcy can't remember anything about her early life. She's always shifted from one foster family to another. She hopes to become an artist, but everything goes off the tracks when a charismatic new boy arrives at school and asks to work with her on an assignment. She finds Conn extremely attractive, but she comes to hate him when he kidnaps her into an alternate-dimension Chicago where society despises and hunts creatures of her kind. Darcy's species, Shades, can make themselves invisible, and they have been at war with humans for centuries. Caught between the human and Shade factions, Darcy has trouble deciding where her loyalties should lie. Mostly, she wants to learn about her past and find a portal back to the old Chicago where she can continue her normal life. Rutkoski weaves an extended discussion of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" throughout the narrative, tying many of Darcy's insights to the poem. After the long buildup to the climax, however, the solution seems a bit too easy. Nicely drawn Darcy comes across as a fully developed human, however intriguing her paranormal abilities. The author builds an engaging world, similar to the real Chicago but different enough to tantalize and keep interest high. Entertaining and provocative. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
Read an Excerpt
My first day back at Lakebrook High seemed innocent enough. I walked toward the beginning of my junior year in a fine spirit, scuffing my combat boots along the hot pavement. I was happy for a simple reason. For once, I wouldn’t be the new girl, and I had friends. Sometimes being able to scrape a hard red chair up to a lunch table with the handful of people who accepted me was all I wanted. It was my second year at the same school. It was a personal record.
Little did I know that someone would try to take this and so much else away from me.
I liked Lakebrook. Sure, suburbia is soulless, but Lakebrook is a thirty-minute train ride from Chicago, with its skyscraping steel and wide pavements that feel like freedom. And, very important, Marsha had agreed to renew my stay with her for another year. This decision might have been inspired by the money the state sent to keep me clothed and fed. I wasn’t complaining. Marsha was a little kooky, but she was also the only foster parent who hadn’t gotten rid of me at the first opportunity.
I followed the yellow buses wheezing their way into the Lakebrook High parking lot and watched students swarm by the entrances. The air was heavy with the tarry smell of fresh asphalt as I walked up to my little clan.
“Daaaarcy!” Jims waggled a pack of Slim Jims—hence the nickname—stuck one tube of beef jerky in his mouth, and offered the rest to me. “Want some?”
“Um, gross,” I said. “Vegetarian here, remember?”
“I thought maybe you’d come to your senses over the summer.”
Lily lit a cigarette, inhaled, exhaled, and passed it to me, lipsticky pink. “Want some?”
I rolled my eyes. I hate, hate, hate smoke, and Lily knows it.
“Want some of this, then?” Raphael rested one finger on his chest in deliberate imitation of the Spanish soap operas we watched at his house. He looked the part of a lead: cinnamon skin, wavy dark hair. But the gesture was a joke. A bluff.
I stared him down. “Why do you all insist on giving me things I don’t want?”
Raphael pretended to look wounded, Lily shrugged, and Jims said, holding his Slim Jim like a cigar, Groucho Marks style: “Because no one knows the square root of pi, because a stegosaurus is no match for a tyrannosaurus, because we always tease the ones we love, and you, Sunshine, we love. Some things are universally true.”
Lily tilted her head, inspecting me. “Darcy doesn’t look like sunshine. More as if someone drew her with pen and ink. Straight black lines. Pale features.”
“I was using irony,” Jims said. “It’s meant to be inappropriate. The opposite of what you expect. You know, like getting hit by an ambulance. Or like a hot dog vendor drowning in a vat of ketchup.”
“Your mind lives in strange places,” I told him.
“True. But you all enjoy visiting.”
“I also enjoy a jaunt through a haunted house once a year, come Halloween.”
Lily tapped her Hello Kitty watch. “Ten minutes till the bell. Time to get down to business.”
Raphael reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a folded white card. “Here’s mine.”
We passed around our schedules, except for Jims, who, being a senior, shared no classes with the rest of us. I was taking Art II and Biology with Lily and Pre-Calc with Raphael. PE, European History, and AP English were wide, vast deserts with nobody.
Right before the bell, when the noise of hundreds of people laughing, talking, squealing, and bickering had swelled into waves, I felt the back of my neck prickle. I was being watched. I knew this even before I slowly turned around, knew it like I knew I had ten fingers and ten toes.
There was a boy standing in the shadow of an oak tree. His stance seemed easy, even lazy. But his expression was electric, tense, taut as a corded wire I could tightrope-walk across.
He was dressed simply. Jeans and a white T-shirt. If he intended to blend in, he utterly failed. His beauty wasn’t my type, but it was undeniable. A cool, angular face. Hair the color of golden wheat, shorn brutally short. Lips so defined they could have been carved by a deft knife.
He lifted his chin a little, acknowledging that I had caught him mid-stare. A smile flickered at the corner of his mouth. Some might have interpreted this as flirtation. I knew better. It was a warning. The smirk of a gunslinger in one of those old orange-brown westerns, as if tumbleweeds were skittering down the parking lot between us and he was daring me to fire the first shot.
Anxiety twisted in my stomach. I had no idea why I had caught his attention. But whatever the reason, it meant trouble.
Text copyright © 2012 by Marie Rutkoski