Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Shadowlands Book Poster Image
Serial killer stalks teen girl in spooky thriller.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A few details about how the police go about tracking a serial killer.

Positive Messages

The characters in Shadowlands live under a tremendous amount of stress -- stalked by a relentless serial killer while also holed up in a strange, remote town full of secrets. But the novel emphasizes the importance and strength of family bonds, and the characters are able to offer compassion to one another in their harrowing situation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Interested more in the science and math than in boys and partying, Rory, the protagonist of Shadowlands, is a serious-minded girl who has her world turned upside-down through no fault of her own. As harrowing as her own experiences are, she finds compassion for her distraught sister and their grieving father. She even tries to play fair by the oddly passive-aggressive inhabitants of Juniper Landing.


As a serial-killer thriller, Shadowlands has its share of violent scenes, including chases through the fog, some stabbings and gunfights. A couple of particularly intense scenes, however, prove less lethal than initially thought. The bloodshed is generally not dwelled upon. Chapters from the point of view of the killer may disturb more sensitive readers, but most should be able to handle them.


In Shadowlands, Rory is strongly attracted to her sister, Darcy's, boyfriend, Christopher, and makes out with him very soon after he and Darcy break up. Their relationship doesn't progress far -- Rory cuts it off due the guilt she feels at "betraying" her sister. On Juniper Landing, Darcy throws herself at some of the local boys, but Rory receives the most attention. Rory feels attracted to one boy in particular, but not much beyond mild flirting happens.


There's some swearing in Shadowlands -- "hell," "damn," "ass" and "bitch" -- but the characters stop themselves before dropping the worst profanities, with one character muttering just half a word, written as: "Motherf--!"

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some of the kids on the mysterious island indulge in underage drinking, but Rory refrains from joining them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shadowlands is a serial-killer thriller that takes a sharp turn into the supernatural by the end of the novel. The violence quotient is not particularly high, and a handful of intense, bloody scenes prove less lethal than they initially appear, but there are some stabbings and gunfights. Chapters from the killer's point of view may disturb some particularly sensitive readers but should not be a problem for most. There's a small amount of swearing ("hell," "damn," "ass," "bitch"), a bit of flirtation and making out among the characters, and a few depictions of underage drinking.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old May 17, 2016

It left me confused

I liked the book in the beginning. It was kind of chilling at times. There was some swearing but nothing extreme. I liked the characters and the story, but the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBlake_Slaughter January 10, 2014

Good book. Exciting. Shocking end.

Good book. May scare younger readers.

What's the story?

Rory Miller is targeted by a seemingly unstoppable serial killer who will go to any length to make her his latest victim. Unable to protect her at her home, the FBI sends Rory, along with her sister, Darcy, and their father, to a remote island where they will live under new identities. But once they reach Juniper Landing, Rory still feels as if the killer night be stalking her. Almost as unsettling is the behavior of the other teens on the island, who seem to share a secret that involves Rory and Darcy.

Is it any good?

SHADOWLANDS starts strongly, with a game of cat-and-mouse between Rory and her would-be killer. But once the action relocates to Juniper Landing, the passive-aggressive natives and Rory's traumatized-yet-still-somewhat-annoying father and sister derail much of the plot's suspense. There's a big reveal at the end of the novel that puts everything before it into a new perspective and sets the stage, presumably, for sequels. Some readers will be intrigued and excited for more. Others may feel cheated.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes stories about a serial killer popular. Is it the suspense? The creepy killer? The terrorized protagonist?

  • Mysteries and thrillers are often set in tourist/resort towns -- what makes them different from places where the population is more permanent? And what about those characteristics are good for stroytelling?

  • What might be like to leave behind your home, school, and friends to protect your family from someone who wants to harm them?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrillers and mysteries

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