In the Shadows - Kiersten White & Jim Di Bartolo

In the Shadows is a visually stunning and beautifully written work of art. The two styles, though very distinct, tell two different parts of the same tale, merging the past and the present in a tangle of word and image. The narrative is eerie and horrific, yet intricately wrought to encourage an emotional connection to each character.
Charles had discovered, much to his surprise, that dying came with a whole array of benefits.
Certainly there was much to be said for not dying before the age of sixteen, but as that did not appear to be an option, he had reconciled himself to slamming into the end of his life with as much momentum as he could manage. 
The novel tells the stories of Thom and Charlie, Cora and Minnie, Arthur, and a large cast of creepy secondary characters. Thomas is taking care of his brother, Charlie, who is dying of a terminal illness. The two are sent off to the sea in order to get some fresh air and to leave the city behind... or so they're told. They arrive at a boarding house populated by Minnie, Cora, their mother, and a few other boarders, including the mysterious "relative," Arthur. While the text follows their adventures, trying to solve a sinister conspiracy, the graphic novel portions of the book give readers a glimpse into another aspect of the story (I won't give anything away!) Can they solve the mystery and find a way to escape their frightening present-day circumstances?
The case in Arthur's hand held all the evil in the world. He could almost feel the darkness and death swirling off it.
Though dense and at times overwhelming, the back-and-forth narrative style is enjoyable, yet multiple readings will benefit readers. There is mystery, supernatural powers, intrigue, infatuation, and nightmarish illustrations, each of which will keep readers enthralled throughout. Answers to the many, many questions revealed with each passing chapter can be found seeded throughout the written and illustrated parts of the text. This is definitely a book that should be read in a physical format as opposed to an e-copy (in my humble opinion.)

I know I've mentioned them multiple times, but the illustrations really are incredible, and you will find yourself admiring Di Bartolo's talent each time you arrive at an illustrated portions of the novel. The colors are stunning, and the characters show so much emotion. Just look at the brilliant skyscape and details. Truly gorgeous... I can't say enough. Di Bartolo shows action, emotion, and events without the use of a single word (I suppose in this case, a picture really does speak a thousand words.)

The writing is strong, the characters' relationships are complex, and the hints of magic and paranormal events make the novel an extraordinarily rich reading experience.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This review is from an Advanced Reading Copy - Out April 29, 2014)


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