Shadows by Robin McKinley

I’ve been finished with Shadows for over a week, and I’m still trying to think about how to discuss it intelligently. Mostly, I just want to gush, so I guess I will do that first, and then try to make one or two intelligent comments to finish up.

Alright, gushing first: I have been a Robin McKinley fan since my mom handed me Beauty in 5th or 6th grade, and Beauty has remained my favorite of her books (with Spindle’s End a close second) ever since. I still have my original copy of Beauty and I probably reread it every few years.

I may have a new favorite Robin McKinley book. 

I’m a little surprised by this, because I can’t quite pinpoint why I like Shadows so much, but it was just a completely satisfying read for me. I don’t want to reread it again right now, but I feel like I will want to reread it again in the next year…and then who knows how many other times. I like that it has a more contemporary feel (another of her “alt-modern” books), but it’s a different contemporary world than either Dragonhaven or Sunshine. I like the different languages that play a part (Japanese and some invented languages) and that it deals with the issues of borders and safety and how people choose to deal with the dangerous stuff that the world throws at us, but it doesn’t preach about any of these topics. I like that the “evil stepfather” is presented as a way to introduce the story, but that Maggie (the main character) is willing to reconsider once she realizes that her stepfather is not evil, just magical. I also like the “critters” everywhere…I am not really a critter person (one cat is just right for me, thank you), but the critters are both endearing and normal, which helps draw you into Maggie’s world.

I also like that, while the ending of the book is a little ambiguous (you don’t know if and how all the big issues are going to be resolved), you know who is who in Maggie’s group of friends and family…I can take a lot of plot ambiguity if all the relationships I’m interested are nicely settled!

Ok, I still don’t have anything especially critical or not-gushing to say. Everyone can have some blind spots with their favorite authors, right? Maybe after I reread this 2 or 3 times, I’ll be able to look at it a little more critically, but in the meantime, I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes: fantasy, magic, dogs, Japanese, origami, hot chocolate, magical creatures, teenage protagonists, or romance. Oh, and anyone who hates math. You won’t be disappointed.

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