My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I’m not very familiar with Marilyn Monroe; I haven’t seen many movie of hers nor listened to her songs. Yet, I love the way she talks. And so I’d like you to hallucinate this review in her voice and accent.
The Year of Shadows has a lot to give to those who ask for it.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those.
The book works on a banal concept, but the execution is diverse and that’s where the strength lies.
Olivia Stellatella’s is the kid who’s having to move into a concert hall, whose mother has abandoned her, and whose father is falling apart along with his orchestra that pays their bills. She’s moved apart from her life and drifts through it like a ghost- that is, until she actually stumbles into one.
But these are good ghouls. These are Casper the friendly ghost ghosts that you will love and they’ll love you back. They all have infinite sadness inside them, wanting to move on, wanting to remember but forgetting all the same.
In helping them, she finds motivation. To do something. To stop drifting. In them, she finds a family to fill the gape left by the one that’s all but shattered.
The book takes on tough subjects, topics that don’t directly affect Olivia but are linked to her. Missing parents, both in body and mind, bullying, failing economy, wars and how all this affects a child. How it all converges and erodes away their innocence deliberately and assuredly.
The characterization is bona fide and faceted. Every ghost has its story it doesn’t want to divulge and every person has their ghost they desperately try to hide.
Claire Legrand catches the spirit of a broken twelve-uear-old and stuff it into Olivia, even while employing some corny features. On the surface, Olivia is simply a version of Violet Parr– minus the superhero and invisible tendencies.
Something like this
But there’s more to her. How she lives her life, in fear everyday that everybody will leave her. How she loves the orchestra, even as she blames and hates them for all her troubles. How she wishes her mother back but still can’t help her abject anger for leaving Olivia.
Henry(a live human) was also an interesting character. He has his fears and sorrow, sometimes he runs away and acts cowardly but he comes back. Always. And he stays till the end.
The portrayal of the relationship between Olivia and her father, the Maestro will definitely break many a heart, even if mine isn’t included in that. I appreciate the raw realism with which Legrand gives a view of a remiss parentage, whether deliberate or otherwise.
Emotions run deep in this book and you’ll have to be in a certain mind to fully realize every aspect of it, methinks.
The imprecise nature of illustrations, while impressive on its own, doesn’t truly complement the story, with its air of elegance and the little elaborate decorations on some of the pages.
BUT like I said earlier, it’s the execution of the plot that steals the limelight. It’s simple at first: these ghosts want to move on but they can’t until the find the ‘anchors’ that affix them to this reality. But they’ve forgotten most of their lives.
They don’t know what it is that holds them and to remember, they’ll have to engage in
possibly certainly perilous deeds.
Or sharing, as the ghosts prefer to call it.
Share the bodies of humans so they can relive their last moments and die again and remember.
And as though, all this isn’t dangerous enough, there are beings called Shades
So all in all, it was an engaging story.
For me, though, it falls flat sometimes with revelations and action scenes and the pacing.
But I’m just a sulky, old teenager grumbling about the scarcity of Oreos in this world and the abundance of trigonometric equations.
A review copy was provided by the publishers.