A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book is part of a series, and readers may be inspired to continue reading all the installments.
Even when you're lonely, don't give up, and keep your heart open to the people (and animals) you love.
Positive Role Models
Olive is a brave girl who faces her fears to fight for her home. Even at the end, she vows to keep working to help someone she loves who's not yet safe.
Violence & Scariness
The Shadows begins with the death of a very old woman -- and rumors around the neighborhood that her cats have eaten part of her face. Olive is in peril through much of the book, including almost being drowned in a painting of a lake, and later having to face off against a very old and powerful witch who wants to trap her in a painting, too. Olive learns that townspeople have been kidnapped for knowing too many of the house's secrets and that the old and powerful witch killed his own son.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows is a middle-grade series starter that features a creepy house and dead witches who return to take back ownership of their family property. An 11-year-old misfit, Olive, is in peril after her own family moves into the house; she is almost drowned, and later has to face off against a very old and powerful witch who killed his own son -- and removed neighbors who knew too much about his family's ways. Readers ready for some scary stuff will find a brave protagonist who faces her fears to fight for her home. Even though Olive is lonely, she must decide to remain in the real world and keep her heart open to the people (and animals) she loves.
Is It Any Good?
The author has all the right pieces here: A sympathetic protagonist, a creepy old house, and clever ideas. Especially intriguing are the portraits that Olive can climb into (and in which other people, including Olive's strange new friend, Morton, have become trapped). The book has scary scenes, such as when Olive almost drowns in a painting of a lake, but the comedic cats add some levity, and savvy readers will know Olive will survive (Her picture is on the other cover of the other series installments, after all). In the end, this is a smart choice for series-loving mid-grade readers who like to shiver beneath their sheets during a creepy bedtime story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.