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Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there's something odd about the place--not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: Sh Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there's something odd about the place--not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that's strangely quiet . . . and eerily like her own. Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets--and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper. As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It's up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.


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Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there's something odd about the place--not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: Sh Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there's something odd about the place--not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that's strangely quiet . . . and eerily like her own. Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets--and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper. As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It's up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.

30 review for The Shadows

  1. 5 out of 5

    human

    (3.5/5) This was pretty much as good as I remember it. I absolutely love the concept that this book is centered around, and it has just enough mystery and magic and adventure to keep things entertaining. It's a book that you can pick up and quickly finish, while also being completely absorbed in at the same time. Eight-year-old me clearly had good taste in books. (3.5/5) This was pretty much as good as I remember it. I absolutely love the concept that this book is centered around, and it has just enough mystery and magic and adventure to keep things entertaining. It's a book that you can pick up and quickly finish, while also being completely absorbed in at the same time. Eight-year-old me clearly had good taste in books.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Rarely do I, as a male, identify with female characters. However, in the case of Olive I was able to lose myself in the story completely. Elements of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and a touch of Madeleine L'Engle combine flawlessly to create a story that is both fascinating and engrossing. However, it is truly unfair to compare West to other authors without highlighting the fact that while her style and prose are reminiscent of the aforementioned others it is still unique and refreshing. Her worldbui Rarely do I, as a male, identify with female characters. However, in the case of Olive I was able to lose myself in the story completely. Elements of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, and a touch of Madeleine L'Engle combine flawlessly to create a story that is both fascinating and engrossing. However, it is truly unfair to compare West to other authors without highlighting the fact that while her style and prose are reminiscent of the aforementioned others it is still unique and refreshing. Her worldbuilding and character development are done with the panache of a poet. Truly a delight to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert Kent

    FIRST PARAGRAPH: MS. MCMARTIN WAS definitely dead. It had taken some time for the neighbors to grow suspicious, since no one ever went in or came out of the old stone house on Linden Street anyway. However, there were several notable clues that things in the McMartin house were not as they should have been. The rusty mailbox began to bulge with odd and exotic mail-order catalogs, which eventually overflowed the gaping aluminum door and spilled out into the street. The gigantic jungle fern that h FIRST PARAGRAPH: MS. MCMARTIN WAS definitely dead. It had taken some time for the neighbors to grow suspicious, since no one ever went in or came out of the old stone house on Linden Street anyway. However, there were several notable clues that things in the McMartin house were not as they should have been. The rusty mailbox began to bulge with odd and exotic mail-order catalogs, which eventually overflowed the gaping aluminum door and spilled out into the street. The gigantic jungle fern that hung from the porch ceiling keeled over for lack of water. Ms. McMartin’s three cats, somewhere inside the house, began the most terrible yowling ever heard on quiet old Linden Street. After a few days of listening to that, the neighbors had had enough. Esteemed Reader, Friedrich Nietzch once wrote, "if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you." Or maybe it was his sister. Either way, I'm still not entirely sure what it means. But it inspired Hitler, who was a painter. In The Books of Elsewhere, if you stare into a painting, the painting stares into you. And that ought to be worth an email from author Jacqueline West asking why I used Hitler to segue to her book for children:) What is it about paintings that so captures the imagination of writers? Certainly enchanted paintings have played a central role in the works of Rowling, King, Wilde, Dahl, and many, many others. Perhaps it's that the frame of a painting sometimes looks less like the boarder of a picture and more like the edge of a window to another world. An Elsewhere TM where the viewer could tour alien landscapes, meet interesting characters, and maybe even get in an adventure. For most viewers this will never happen because they don't have the magic old-fashioned glasses. Meet eleven-year-old Olive Dunwoody. She has the glasses. West didn't just kill off poor Ms. McMartin in paragraph one for no reason. She's left that old stone house on Linden Street vacant so Olive and her family can move in: It wasn’t long before someone heard about the old stone house for sale at an astonishingly low price and decided to buy it. These someones were a Mr. Alec and Mrs. Alice Dunwoody, a pair of more than slightly dippy mathematicians. The Dunwoodys had a daughter named Olive—but she had nothing to do with the house-buying decision. Olive was eleven, and was generally not given much credit. Her persistently lackluster grades in math had led her parents to believe that she was some kind of genetic aberration—they talked to her patiently, as if she were a foreign exchange student from a country no one had ever heard of. Observe how West identifies conflict between her characters in their introduction, which is a writer's trick worth making note of. After all, the whole point of crafting characters is to get them in conflict with each other and as many other conflicts as can be had. Conflict keeps pages turning. Olive's parents are nerds of the highest order to such an extreme degree as to make Elissa Brent Weissman blush. For this reason, it's hard not to be fond of them, but seriously: “We met in the library at Princeton,” answered Mrs. Dunwoody, her eyes glowing with the memory. “We were both reading the same journal—The Absolutely Unrelenting Seriousness of Mathematics for the New Generation —” “Or ‘Ausom’—get it?” interjected Mr. Dunwoody. “‘Awesome.’ Very clever.” Nerds! I suspect Olive will grow up to be a nerd of a very different sort: an English nerd, which is a nerd just as awkward as a math nerd, though usually possessing a greater fondness for alcohol:) Olive is aloof and introspective. She doesn't appear to have friends, but that's an unfair judgement as she just moved. Still, if there weren't fantastical figures about for her to get in an adventure with, I'm certain she would invent them. Olive's mind is quite a bit like a writer's mind, and I suspect writer's everywhere will identify with this passage, which might have been taken from my own youth: In her bedroom, Olive dug through the closet looking for a pair of slippers to wear for protection against the chilly stone floor. But there were no slippers to be found. Olive owned six pairs of slippers, but none of them were ever where they belonged. This was because Olive's body often did things without consulting Olive's brain, which was usually busy with something much more interesting than putting things away in the right place. In any case, West puts Olive at odds with her parents from the start and keeps them at odds for much of the novel. There are many plot conveniences derived from this device, but more, it creates conflict, which keeps pages turning. Olive's issues with her parents are not the main conflict, though I might argue that a girl who feels out of place in her family might be more prone toward seeking out fantastical worlds of escape than one who doesn't. West has a whole adventure planned for us rooted in a greater conflict that will stretch over the series, but that doesn't diminish the brilliance of Olive's smaller conflict with her parents. Every scene she has with her parents is made more interesting and more readable because of the conflict, and is there such a thing as a book that is too interesting or readable? Eventually, Olive puts on the magic old-fashioned glasses and is able to travel to a wonderland inside the houses paintings complete with talking cats who never seem to have good news: “Keep your eyes open. Be on your guard. There is something that doesn’t want you here, and it will do its best to get rid of you.” “Get rid of me?” “Of all of you. As far as this house is concerned, you are intruders.” Horatio paused. “But don’t get too anxious. There’s very little you can do about it either way. And so begins an adventure that will suck the reader into West's world as Olive is sucked into a painting. The Shadows is an exciting first novel in what promises to be a wonderful series and you should add it to your reading list. That's where I'll leave my review and my description of the plot as to avoid spoilers. But I do have two more passages to share and one last point to make about craft. First, read this: And the painting at the top of the stairs still seemed to be keeping a secret. Olive stood in front of it for almost half an hour that first night, until her eyes crossed and bits of the trees popped out at her. Nothing. Nothing but the feeling that there was something not quite right about this painting. And it wasn’t the only one. There were paintings all over the house that gave her the same funny feeling. Right outside her bedroom door, there was a painting of a rolling field with a row of little houses in the distance. It was evening in the painting, and all the windows in the houses were dark. But the houses didn’t look like they were sleeping comfortably, just waiting for sunrise to come and start another day. The houses looked like they were holding their breath. They crouched among the trees and blew out their lights, trying not to be seen. Seen by what? Olive wondered. One of the things that had attracted me to read The Shadows in the first place was the promise by other readers that it was a scary book. And I was not disappointed. There are some definite moments of unease and creepiness. I'm admittedly not a parent, but I think most children will enjoy the book and few will have nightmares. Some will, though:) My second point about craft is to note how West chooses to reveal the magical properties of the paintings surrounding the Dunwoody family. She doesn't bluntly state that a person can travel through them, or even that the paintings gaze into the Dunwoodys in a most Nietzchian fashion. Instead, she draws out the suspense by slowly revealing there's maybe something going on with those paintings: The shadows suddenly rippled and bent, and within the shadows, a pale splotch darted out of the undergrowth. Olive froze, staring at the white path. She blinked, rubbed her eyelids with her fingertips, and looked again. Yes—there it was. Something was moving inside the painting, a tiny white shape flitting between the silhouettes of the wiry trees. Olive held perfectly still. She didn't even breathe. The tiny white shape made one more quick plunge toward the path, then dove back into the thorny black forest. And then the painting, too, was perfectly still. When writing middle grade, writers are too often tempted to cut corners as the text must be as sparse as possible (there are acceptable word counts to strive for). Pacing is worth considering and shorter is almost always better, but some effects are worth slowing down for. By drawing out the reveal of a magical object, a writer can heighten suspense and work the reader into a vulnerable frenzy of wanting to know more, which is a perfect state in which to terrify them:) As always, I'll leave you with some of my favorite passages from The Shadows: Mr. Hambert, on the other hand, was sweating like a mug of root beer in the sun In the big old house, their belongings looked small and out of place, like tiny visitors from outer space trying to blend in at a Victorian ball. Her parents had warned her not to let her imagination run away with her ever since she was three and had woken them night after night wailing about the sharks hiding under her bed. “Olive, honey,” her father had patiently explained, “when a shark is out of the water, it is crushed by the weight of its own body. A shark couldn’t survive under your bed.” Three-year-old Olive had nodded, and went on to imagine sharks slowly suffocating among the dust bunnies. Half of Olive’s brain said, That cat just talked! The other half of Olive’s brain said stubbornly, No it didn't All Olive’s mouth said was, “What?” In the distance, she heard her father knocking his toothbrush on the sink. The house creaked. A twig of the ash tree tapped softly against her window, again and again, like a small, patient hand.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Brilliant debut novel by Jacqueline West! I receive plenty of ARC's every year, but very few that leave me satisfied and excited for the follow-up. SPOILER ALERT!!! This Victorian-esque mystery novel has a brilliant and strong heroine in Olive Dunwoody. She is an average girl with genius mathematical parents, and she feels her ordinary existence as she moves from school to school for her parents career. Olive's parents finally decide to put down some roots, and they choose the most unique, spook Brilliant debut novel by Jacqueline West! I receive plenty of ARC's every year, but very few that leave me satisfied and excited for the follow-up. SPOILER ALERT!!! This Victorian-esque mystery novel has a brilliant and strong heroine in Olive Dunwoody. She is an average girl with genius mathematical parents, and she feels her ordinary existence as she moves from school to school for her parents career. Olive's parents finally decide to put down some roots, and they choose the most unique, spooky and creepy house to move in to, with Olive having no say in the matter in her parents eagerness to snatch up a house where lonely Miss McMartin died - at the age of 104. Olive soon learns that the house is not normal as she begins to sift through Miss McMartin's belongings, coming across an old pair of spectacles that she soon discovers has magical powers, namely to see old portraits and paintings come to life. Olive uses the spectacles to enter the paintings, and soon thereafter, excitement and danger lurks in every corner. She befriends sweet Morton, a boy who is a part of a painting, a boy who remembers a hazy past, but Olive dismisses him as just a painted figure who wishes for more. Joining their friendship are the wonderful talking cats, Horatio, Leopold and Harvey. Together, they fight the forces that are trying to take over the house and trying to snuff Olive's existence by making her a part of the spooky paintings. This is the kind of book you should put in the hands of children who are looking for an excellent mystery novel, and are fans of Harry Potter, Coraline, Molly Moon, and books and characters steeped in the mysterious supernatural and magical. I would recommend this book children in grades 4 through 8, although it would be an enjoyable read for any age.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Well, this one had great potential . . . Eleven-year-old Olive and her parents move to an old house that comes furnished with all the previous occupant's possessions. When Olive stumbles upon a pair of glasses that allow her to crawl inside paintings, things take a turn for the mysterious. Great idea, eh? And it could have led to some fantastic adventures, but the author just didn't go there. Perhaps if the book had been longer, there could have been some whimsical bits with the paintings, befor Well, this one had great potential . . . Eleven-year-old Olive and her parents move to an old house that comes furnished with all the previous occupant's possessions. When Olive stumbles upon a pair of glasses that allow her to crawl inside paintings, things take a turn for the mysterious. Great idea, eh? And it could have led to some fantastic adventures, but the author just didn't go there. Perhaps if the book had been longer, there could have been some whimsical bits with the paintings, before we got down to the main plot, which is an attempt to reanimate an evil old man. Olive herself is a rather blah, and not a very endearing character. Even the three talking cats failed to enchant me. Perhaps the author stretches her imagination a bit further in the next few books, but I won't be continuing on with the series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    I have a favorite pen. The ink seeps out of it so I hardly have to press the felt tip to the paper. Bliss... no callouses, no hand-cramps, just my handy-dandy pen and a cup of tea when I sit down to write. So imagine the irony when I come across this paragraph that I absolutely have to write in my journal and I can't find my blasted pen: "In her bedroom, Olive dug through the closet looking for a pair of slippers to wear for protection against the chilly stone floor. But there were no slippers to I have a favorite pen. The ink seeps out of it so I hardly have to press the felt tip to the paper. Bliss... no callouses, no hand-cramps, just my handy-dandy pen and a cup of tea when I sit down to write. So imagine the irony when I come across this paragraph that I absolutely have to write in my journal and I can't find my blasted pen: "In her bedroom, Olive dug through the closet looking for a pair of slippers to wear for protection against the chilly stone floor. But there were no slippers to be found. Olive owned six pairs of slippers, but none of them were ever where they belonged. This was because Olive's body often did things without consulting Olive's brain, which was usually busy with something much more interesting than putting things away in the right place. A second pair of socks would have to do." Olive, I mutter, grabbing a ball-point pen I know will leave my hand cramped, I know exactly how you feel.  The reader immediately gets a feel for Olive's creative, random nature contrasted with her nerdy, brilliant mathematical parents. At dinner, Olive asks for a small helping of lima beans and her mother says, "Twenty-four for you, then."  And while you might not be able to relate to Olive (like myself), you will definitely laugh. Olive has just moved into a creepy Victorian stone house with a scary basement, talking cats, and paintings where the objects move. She's kind of lonely in the big old house but has a blast exploring its nooks and crannies. When she finds a pair of spectacles she realizes she can climb into the paintings and of course, jumps in the painting that is creepy. She's also intrigued because she can see a boy running through it. Meet Morton. His skin looks like a painting or porcelain but he wants out of the painting. He explains that a bad man brought him there and when a dark shadow chases them she impulsively yanks Morton out of the painting with the help of one of the cats and puts him in another one that is less threatening. Her next painting adventure involves meeting a women in a painting and having tea with her making her first friend. She also breaks the tea cup, puts 10 cubes of sugar in her tea, and thwacks her head on the picture frame when exiting, but she's having a hey-ho time until she starts to find out things from people in other paintings about the bad man that put them there. The man who has now targeted Olive because she lives in his house. The man who wants to kill her. The pacing is fast, the humor keeps the story from being too frightening for young readers, and the characters are kooky and fun. The writing is very descriptive and the author creates a setting that is easy to get lost in. Mrs. Dewey she describes as looking as if she had been stacked on top of each other like a snowman. The cats are like the Three Musketeers with one cat being the thespian. He switches his voice using a pirate voice or a Shakespearean voice, to name a few. He reminded me of my sister who used to do that except she was either a Looney Tune character or the lion in the Wizard of Oz. There were some nice plot twists and I was kept guessing as to what would happen next. When all looks lost Olive recognizes that the mess they are in is really because of her actions and it was refreshing to see her take responsibility for them. Only a couple of times did I wonder why the cats do not give Olive necessary information. The ploy is to keep the reader guessing as to whether or not the cats are helping or hindering Olive and the author gives the reason that they are serving the McMartins but I thought it was weak. I thought they should have had a curse on them similar to the necklace. Morton changes from a frightened mean boy to one willing to stand up to evil. It was funny when he was hiding under the bed and then crawls out to explain how he had decided to fight the bad man and says he's strong flexing his spaghetti arm. Morton and Olive become friends in the story and Olive has to apologize for not believing in him. Morton is younger than Olive and their friendship requires Olive to be kind and not be the know-it-all older brat. She is a good person who learns from her mistakes. This book reminded me of Breadcrumbs with how the author describes cold weather. It is like another character in the story the way it pervades the pages with images of snowmen, ice daggers, and crystals. West does such a good job getting the senses involved that I was left with a frosty nose a few times. A fun fantasy read. Reading Level 5.1

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This volume by Jacqueline West, The Shadows, is first in the series of Elsewhere. Right away - loved the cover. If you see it in person, the cover actually reflects light and looks like it's glowing. The drawing is a perfect likeness to Olive, the main character. Each illustration is a mix of creepiness and adorability. I am amazed by Jacquline West and her ability to pack in multiple story lines, adventure and several twists with a few heapfuls of angst in 241 pages. She tells the tale of Olive This volume by Jacqueline West, The Shadows, is first in the series of Elsewhere. Right away - loved the cover. If you see it in person, the cover actually reflects light and looks like it's glowing. The drawing is a perfect likeness to Olive, the main character. Each illustration is a mix of creepiness and adorability. I am amazed by Jacquline West and her ability to pack in multiple story lines, adventure and several twists with a few heapfuls of angst in 241 pages. She tells the tale of Olive Dunwoody moving into her family's first home - the McMartin mansion. This is no ordinary creepy old house - it's a keeper of secret portals disguised as paintings. Olive discovers a pair of enchanted spectacles that allow the paintings to come to life when she looks through them and even enters them. Olive meets a distraught boy, Morton, in a painting of her own street and works to free him. Olive battles the evil that lurks in the paintings in a way that parallels Christianity. In order to explain that comparison I'd have to spoil the story so I'll just leave the ending for you to discover. I loved Olive's spunkiness in this story. When she battles evil old Aldous McMartin, she stubbornly tells him, "I am not afraid of you," and later "Is that supposed to be scary? Because it isn't." Even when he induces the feeling of spiders covering her body, causing her stomach to lurch, she simply tells herself This isn't real, this isn't real, this isn't real. In today's world of catastrophes and powers that be, who wouldn't want to be like Olive? The best part of the story was how she threw in twists early into the story line as well as in the middle and end. The story never sagged and was full of surprises. Olive's predicament is resolved, but not the entire big picture, leaving the door wide open for a sequel but not to the extreme that it weakens the book. The only thing I didn't care and took my by surprise was the dark elements of witches discussed by the cats. The sequel gives a hint to potions and such. I may decide not to read the sequel if it's based on dark arts, but will be anxious to check out any works by Jacqueline West. I would recommend this book for upper-middle grade because of the scary elements. I give this book ***** 5 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    I initially had this book in audio format but felt like I was missing something. A quick trip to the bookstore solved that one. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the narrator, I just felt like I was missing out on flipping the pages, looking at the illustrations and reading the words. I fell in love with the wonderfully detailed pictures of the McMartin home and Olive trying on long gloves and combs in her hair. I was instantly lured into the book by the author’s style of desc I initially had this book in audio format but felt like I was missing something. A quick trip to the bookstore solved that one. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the narrator, I just felt like I was missing out on flipping the pages, looking at the illustrations and reading the words. I fell in love with the wonderfully detailed pictures of the McMartin home and Olive trying on long gloves and combs in her hair. I was instantly lured into the book by the author’s style of descriptive writing and poetic word choices that kept enticing me to continue reading right until the very end. I felt that I was able to empathize with Olive and was drawn into her desire to save Morton. It was Mrs. West’s specific word choices that really painted detailed images that brought the photographs in the book of lakes, trees and dark shadows to life and sent the hairs on the back of my neck to stand on end at times. This book is equal parts spooky, suspenseful and has some wonderful poetic imagery. I am really looking forward to going back and finish the audiobook and for the next book in her series. ETA: Starting a re-read 12/1/12

  9. 4 out of 5

    DarkKnuWayve

    If you like The Book Jumper you might like this, instead of jumping in books the main character can jump into paintings. The plot was simple and at times it was slow, but it was enjoyable. I could tell you the plot but you can look it up on here. There were some good and some bad. The good, being able to jump into paintings. The bad, I didn't really like the ending. And there are three talking cats, if you're into that. It's the first of a series and I'll give the rest a chance. Hopefully the se If you like The Book Jumper you might like this, instead of jumping in books the main character can jump into paintings. The plot was simple and at times it was slow, but it was enjoyable. I could tell you the plot but you can look it up on here. There were some good and some bad. The good, being able to jump into paintings. The bad, I didn't really like the ending. And there are three talking cats, if you're into that. It's the first of a series and I'll give the rest a chance. Hopefully the series get better.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kateryna

    Olive and her family move into a big, creepy house and as she explores, she finds that the paintings come to life and the cats talk to her. The storyline was nice but halfway through the book the pacing started to drag, some things didn't make sense.. And I just felt it could've been less predictable and more mysterious. An entertaining choice for kids who want a story that's a little scary, but not too much. I'm not sure I'll be continuing the series, as I'm not totally entranced by this world. Olive and her family move into a big, creepy house and as she explores, she finds that the paintings come to life and the cats talk to her. The storyline was nice but halfway through the book the pacing started to drag, some things didn't make sense.. And I just felt it could've been less predictable and more mysterious. An entertaining choice for kids who want a story that's a little scary, but not too much. I'm not sure I'll be continuing the series, as I'm not totally entranced by this world.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    “Ms. McMartin was definitely dead.” WHO wouldn't like a book that opens with that line? But what kid would want their parents to buy a house, actually a huge mansion (old, old, old) where someone died? NOT ME... nope! Poor Olive, her parents did... parents who are brilliant and see her normal intelligence as less than, but they still love her. Having mathematically inclined parents must be a common theme in middle school books, THE TREEHOUSE WARS included this as well. Olive finds the three hous “Ms. McMartin was definitely dead.” WHO wouldn't like a book that opens with that line? But what kid would want their parents to buy a house, actually a huge mansion (old, old, old) where someone died? NOT ME... nope! Poor Olive, her parents did... parents who are brilliant and see her normal intelligence as less than, but they still love her. Having mathematically inclined parents must be a common theme in middle school books, THE TREEHOUSE WARS included this as well. Olive finds the three house cats, that are AMAZING (I am coming around to wishing I lived there, her cats talk). As Olive explores the house she discovers she finds more and more strange things, painting that move, old spectacles that allow her to see the paintings come alive and everyone is moving! Grecian girls dancing, men mortaring a stone wall, a woman serving tea—and a scared child ducking for cover in the sinister forest! Not ONLY can she SEE the movement, if she pushes against the painting, but she can also push her way into the scene. There she meets Morton (a little boy, one of my favorite characters in the book). I enjoyed the book, though it was cute, I found Olive a great role model as she was brave, calm, and critically thought her way out of issues. She didn't panic when she thought spiders were all over her... that has to be the bravest girl alive! 4 stars Happy Reading!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    It was an intriguing concept, and it reminded me a little of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. But I didn't enjoy it as much as Coraline. The main character certainly had spunk and I wanted to know how things would turn out, but there was something missing. The setting was intriguing and I thought the author did a nice job of making the story suspenseful without going over the line into "scary" - and it was a nice blend for it's middle school age group. The cats were an interesting touch, but I wasn't to It was an intriguing concept, and it reminded me a little of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. But I didn't enjoy it as much as Coraline. The main character certainly had spunk and I wanted to know how things would turn out, but there was something missing. The setting was intriguing and I thought the author did a nice job of making the story suspenseful without going over the line into "scary" - and it was a nice blend for it's middle school age group. The cats were an interesting touch, but I wasn't totally in love with them. I can't say that I loved this book, but I did like reading it and I'm going to read the sequel (partly because I picked it up at ALA) and I'd probably recommend for readers who want a touch of "eery" in their stories. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2011...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    I LOVE THIS CHILDREN'S BOOK! I READ IT ALL TODAY! I CAN'T WAIT TO GET MORE IN THE SERIES. I LOVE THE PLOT AND ALL OF THE CHARACTERS, WELL THE NICE ONES OF COURSE :) I RECOMMEND THESE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS. I LOVE THIS CHILDREN'S BOOK! I READ IT ALL TODAY! I CAN'T WAIT TO GET MORE IN THE SERIES. I LOVE THE PLOT AND ALL OF THE CHARACTERS, WELL THE NICE ONES OF COURSE :) I RECOMMEND THESE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Blue

    Apparently I am on a kick of dark/horror-like childrens' books. I am pleased to have enjoyed them. This book though, it is the best of the batch. It does have a similar feel of Coraline but it is not Coraline. I probably adore this book primarily for being enamored with discovery in books and we get loads of that as Olive explores the house and the rules of this . . . for lack of a better term - game/book. I did adore the book, but I was not amazed by it. There was an element of the ending coming Apparently I am on a kick of dark/horror-like childrens' books. I am pleased to have enjoyed them. This book though, it is the best of the batch. It does have a similar feel of Coraline but it is not Coraline. I probably adore this book primarily for being enamored with discovery in books and we get loads of that as Olive explores the house and the rules of this . . . for lack of a better term - game/book. I did adore the book, but I was not amazed by it. There was an element of the ending coming out from nowhere, and as an adult the ending seems firmly bittersweet. I am excited to hear/read what comes next. (view spoiler)[I kinda want the men and the dog to be moved to the town. With some thought I can see how the dog is needed more in the paintings than in the real world. I suspect that being out of a painting long enough might turn someone back into flesh, although written for high school age I would give it 50/50 on that or turning to dust, and at adult level dust or some demise worse. (hide spoiler)] I was a bit miffed that despite all the mentions of art being a favoured hobby, not once was there any indication of it. Maybe twas just set-up for future books.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura McLain

    THE SHADOWS, a middle-grade paranormal novel, opens with a great line: “Ms. McMartin was definitely dead.” The decedent leaves behind a huge old pile of a mansion, and as her nearest relative has just died in Shanghai of “a severe allergic reaction to a bowl of turtle and arsenic soup,” the house is put on the market. Mr. and Mrs. Dunwoody, a pair of university mathematicians, buy the house and move in with their eleven-year-old daughter, Olive. Olive’s parents are loving, but tend to consider h THE SHADOWS, a middle-grade paranormal novel, opens with a great line: “Ms. McMartin was definitely dead.” The decedent leaves behind a huge old pile of a mansion, and as her nearest relative has just died in Shanghai of “a severe allergic reaction to a bowl of turtle and arsenic soup,” the house is put on the market. Mr. and Mrs. Dunwoody, a pair of university mathematicians, buy the house and move in with their eleven-year-old daughter, Olive. Olive’s parents are loving, but tend to consider her slow as she hasn’t inherited their mathematical genius. Olive is largely left to her own devices and begins to explore the mansion. The house is full of spooky noises, dusty cobwebs, and creepy paintings. “Olive had never been anywhere—not even the doctor’s office, not even gym class—that made her feel so out of place, or so alone.” (The reference to feeling out of place in gym class resonates strongly with me!) Paintings hang all through the house and Mrs. Dunwoody finds they are impossible to remove from the walls. Olive notices a flicker of movement in one painting, a sinister moonlit forest scene. Later, while playing in an upstairs bedroom for antique jewelry, lace and gloves, she finds a pair of old spectacles. She puts them on and all the paintings come alive: Grecian girls dancing, men mortaring a stone wall, a woman serving tea—and a scared child ducking for cover in the sinister forest. Olive peers closer and closer at the canvas, and discovers that while wearing the enchanted spectacles she can push her way into the scene. After safety-testing with her teddy bear, she hops through the portal into the sinister moonlit forest. She locates the frightened child, a boy named Morton, who explains his fear of the Bad Man. Olive continues to investigate the mysteries of the house: Who built it? Who is the Bad Man? Who created the living paintings? Where did Morton come from? What is buried in the creepy basement? I won’t spoil the story by answering the questions, but suffice it to say that the story is enjoyable and should appeal to readers of middle-grade fantasies like HARRY POTTER, SEPTIMUS HEAP or LEVEN THUMPS. Ms. West writes with an authentic, entertaining voice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Let me start off by saying that Lexy Fridellhas a perfect voice with which to narrate the books in the Books of Elsewhere series. She's got that high-ish Lisa Simpson voice, and that works for these books since our main character is an 11 year old girl. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to deal with Fridell's voice, but it all worked out just fine. I did enjoy The Shadows, the first book in the Books of Elsewhere Series. It was good fantasy aimed at older elementary school kids. There was some suspen Let me start off by saying that Lexy Fridellhas a perfect voice with which to narrate the books in the Books of Elsewhere series. She's got that high-ish Lisa Simpson voice, and that works for these books since our main character is an 11 year old girl. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to deal with Fridell's voice, but it all worked out just fine. I did enjoy The Shadows, the first book in the Books of Elsewhere Series. It was good fantasy aimed at older elementary school kids. There was some suspense, some horror, some sense of magic, and that was all nice, and the right kid would probably enjoy reading this book. To me, though, an old auntie in her 40s, the book didn't feel particularly fresh. At various points I found myself reminded of Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. All of those are classic books, and it's not like The Shadows suffers in the (ahem) shadow of those books. But again, it isn't fresh, and I'm not sure that there's anything in particular that would pull me irresistibly toward reading the next book in this series. Maybe if I were a 5th or 6th grader interested in fantasy I'd go back for round two, book two, and maybe someday when I need something to occupy my mind I will give book two a shot anyway. Olive is a compelling little character even if she leads a story that has been told before.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Monster

    Meet Olive, an 11 year old girl new to the neighborhood whose family has just moved into a mansion with quite a past. As Olive explores the house’s many rooms and their contents, she rushes headlong, literally, into unearthing the dark history of the mansion’s previous inhabitants, when she finds a pair of glasses tucked away in the drawer. When Olive dons them, she learns there is far more to the strange, dark paintings that seem permanently affixed to the walls than she thought – she can actua Meet Olive, an 11 year old girl new to the neighborhood whose family has just moved into a mansion with quite a past. As Olive explores the house’s many rooms and their contents, she rushes headlong, literally, into unearthing the dark history of the mansion’s previous inhabitants, when she finds a pair of glasses tucked away in the drawer. When Olive dons them, she learns there is far more to the strange, dark paintings that seem permanently affixed to the walls than she thought – she can actually step inside and enter the paintings. In one painting, Olive meets Morton, who, along with three guardian cats, helps her discover the true nature of the sinister Aldous McMartin and his granddaughter Annabelle. Olive inadvertently releases Annabelle from her painting, and now Annabelle is intent on bringing Mr. McMartin back to life so he can reclaim his mansion at the expense of Olive and her family. It’s up to Olive to put things right again. Beautifully detailed illustrations are interspersed throughout the story, adding to the highly descriptive narrative. The Shadows is very reminiscent to Neil Gaiman’s Coraline with the absent parents, a new home to explore, a talking cat (cats in this case), and entrances to another world; however, the story holds its own on a more light-hearted level. The Shadows is a delightful read of witchcraft, hauntings, and a young girl’s power to face her fears and set the world right. Recommended for a school library or a public library’s juvenile fiction collection, for ages 7-12, The Shadows would also work well as a bridge into young adult literature and for those who enjoyed Coraline. Reviewed by Kelly Fann

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a well-written middle-grade fantasy, mostly serious but with many humorous moments. Olive Dunwoody, age 11, moves into a spooky house with her affectionate but distant parents, does some exploring, has magical adventures that gradually become darker and more dangerous, gets in deeper than she bargained for, and ultimately has to fight for her life. There are daring rescues and desperate escapes. During the course of the story Olive makes friends and grows up a little. The prose is sound. This is a well-written middle-grade fantasy, mostly serious but with many humorous moments. Olive Dunwoody, age 11, moves into a spooky house with her affectionate but distant parents, does some exploring, has magical adventures that gradually become darker and more dangerous, gets in deeper than she bargained for, and ultimately has to fight for her life. There are daring rescues and desperate escapes. During the course of the story Olive makes friends and grows up a little. The prose is sound. Jacqueline West can turn a clever phrase. The plot is well structured and the pace is good. I was impressed that even during chapters without much action, the reader doesn't feel that things lag. Olive is high-spirited, adventurous, and has a sense of humor, but also has some damage which she has to overcome. The supporting characters are broadly drawn in a manner appropriate for middle-grade fiction. I applaud the author for succeeding in keeping the personalties of three different talking cats distinct. During one scene, a character who had seemed benign is slowly revealed as evil and dangerous. The character's evolution over the course of a few pages is a fine and subtle bit of writing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I want more! I hope this is a long series, because I just love the main character, Olive. She is your classic outcast, the kid who has no friends, until she meets a boy who happens to live in a painting. She can't figure out how to help him, but she tries, and in so doing, incurs the wrath of a vengeful spirit whose name she doesn't know. Three talking cats try to help her, but are they really her friends? With elements of fantasy mixed with real-life concerns of the deepest fears of a young girl I want more! I hope this is a long series, because I just love the main character, Olive. She is your classic outcast, the kid who has no friends, until she meets a boy who happens to live in a painting. She can't figure out how to help him, but she tries, and in so doing, incurs the wrath of a vengeful spirit whose name she doesn't know. Three talking cats try to help her, but are they really her friends? With elements of fantasy mixed with real-life concerns of the deepest fears of a young girl, this story draws you in and does not let go. Discovering that she has hidden talents, Olive grows throughout the book, and in the end, finds that being 'creative' is kind of handy, after all. There are so many questions, but they all come together neatly at the end. Well, almost all of them. This is a delightful book for all ages, although it does have some truly creepy sections that might really scare younger readers. But for a classic tale of underdog might, this is one for the permanent shelf.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I love this book. It's like a delightful mix of 100 Cupboards and Coraline. Olive and her parents just moved into a big, old Victorian house. Her parents are pretty busy with their jobs, so Olive has some time to explore her new house. Olive examines the paintings left on the walls and well as the drawers of dressers and other furniture left in the house when her parents bought it. Before long she discovers and old pair of spectacles, and and even bigger surprise - when she's wearing the glasses I love this book. It's like a delightful mix of 100 Cupboards and Coraline. Olive and her parents just moved into a big, old Victorian house. Her parents are pretty busy with their jobs, so Olive has some time to explore her new house. Olive examines the paintings left on the walls and well as the drawers of dressers and other furniture left in the house when her parents bought it. Before long she discovers and old pair of spectacles, and and even bigger surprise - when she's wearing the glasses she can step into the paintings! However, there is something sinister lurking in the "elsewhere". Olive must muster up all her bravery and resourcefulness now to protect herself and her family from the mysterious presences that wants it's house back. The book is just the right mix of funny, creepy, and fantastical. I loved it from beginning to end and can't wait to read where this story goes next! (I just hope that the next time I get a book with all it's pages!)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This should work well for our neighborhood. The ideas about art and the studiously aloof, but loving parents are a perfect match for our overly-academic customers. The story is a fun one that will be a delight to share with kids. I'd pair this in a display with Agee's INCREDIBLE PAINTING OF FELIX CLOUSSEAU. Several excellent kid critic reviews are coming in for this. Here's the first one: In my own words: There’s something odd about the McMartin House, and everyone knows it. Poor Olive Dunwoody; This should work well for our neighborhood. The ideas about art and the studiously aloof, but loving parents are a perfect match for our overly-academic customers. The story is a fun one that will be a delight to share with kids. I'd pair this in a display with Agee's INCREDIBLE PAINTING OF FELIX CLOUSSEAU. Several excellent kid critic reviews are coming in for this. Here's the first one: In my own words: There’s something odd about the McMartin House, and everyone knows it. Poor Olive Dunwoody; she has to move there. And one thing’s for sure, it’s not going to be easy settling in. If you like suspense, adventure, and children’s horror all in one book, you’ll be staying up late reading this book. Reviewed by Yoav age 9 And, after having dinner with Jacqueline, I'm happy to be her GoodReads Fan. She's a keeper!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Olive's family buys an old, creepy house that is enormous.and full of odd paintings. Olive's parents are absorbed with Math and all things mathmatical so Olive has lots of time to explore. When she finds a pair of old glasses she discovers that she can actually go into the paintings. She also discovers a trio of talking cats who guard the house and it's "secret". Despite warnings from these cats, Olive continues to explore inside the paintings, popping in and out at will. Was it only a matter of Olive's family buys an old, creepy house that is enormous.and full of odd paintings. Olive's parents are absorbed with Math and all things mathmatical so Olive has lots of time to explore. When she finds a pair of old glasses she discovers that she can actually go into the paintings. She also discovers a trio of talking cats who guard the house and it's "secret". Despite warnings from these cats, Olive continues to explore inside the paintings, popping in and out at will. Was it only a matter of time until something followed her out? This is the first of the Books of Elsewhere series. I really enjoyed it. I read it during lunch hours so it took a bit of time. Normally, it would have been a one sitting book, which can be fun. I liked the characters and loved the cats. There was action and mystery. I think this would appeal to boys and girls. I will be reading the next in the series.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ann Marie

    Let me just start by saying, I do not fall into the age group intended for this book...that being said I was delighted to have read it...sometimes I enjoy a young adult or even a pre-teen read...kind like a vacation for my head since I read sooooo much...this one was like taking a trip to Hershey Park after three years of work without a vacation...I enjoyed Olive and her cat friends very much and (so not like me) even enjoyed the lack of parenting from the parents...I thought for sure Olive was Let me just start by saying, I do not fall into the age group intended for this book...that being said I was delighted to have read it...sometimes I enjoy a young adult or even a pre-teen read...kind like a vacation for my head since I read sooooo much...this one was like taking a trip to Hershey Park after three years of work without a vacation...I enjoyed Olive and her cat friends very much and (so not like me) even enjoyed the lack of parenting from the parents...I thought for sure Olive was going to grab the paint thinner or turpentine and dissolve all the "issues" but no, that was not how the book ended...very good story...recommend to all those who are young at heart

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    Although I would recommend this to certain readers, I am not eager to read the next in the series. Olive and her family move into a house that has been previously owned by powerful and cruel witches. The three cats in the home befriend Olive as she discovers the house's secrets by moving in and out of the framed artwork, enabled by a pair of enchanted spectacles she finds. It has some exciting moments though, and Olive is a lovable character. As with most intermediate level fiction, the parents Although I would recommend this to certain readers, I am not eager to read the next in the series. Olive and her family move into a house that has been previously owned by powerful and cruel witches. The three cats in the home befriend Olive as she discovers the house's secrets by moving in and out of the framed artwork, enabled by a pair of enchanted spectacles she finds. It has some exciting moments though, and Olive is a lovable character. As with most intermediate level fiction, the parents are somewhat clueless, distracted, and absent from her life which is what allows her to have the dangerously independent adventures she does.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chloe V.

    Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. When eleven-year-old Olive and her mathematician parents move in, Olive is right to think there's something odd about the place, but when she finds a pair of old glasses, Olive discovers the most peculiar thing yet: she can travel inside these paintings to Elsewhere, (crazy right?), a place that's strangely quiet...and familiar. Olive soon finds herself in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, a power that wants to be rid of her by an Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. When eleven-year-old Olive and her mathematician parents move in, Olive is right to think there's something odd about the place, but when she finds a pair of old glasses, Olive discovers the most peculiar thing yet: she can travel inside these paintings to Elsewhere, (crazy right?), a place that's strangely quiet...and familiar. Olive soon finds herself in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It's up to her to save the house from the shadows, before the lights go out for good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Buxton

    This book won the 2010 Cybils award in middle grade speculative fiction. I liked how the author developed the suspense through the characters and settings. Olive wasn't sure who to trust, so I was left wondering what was actually going on. The woman in the painting seemed pretty and sweet, but why would the cats be warning Olive if they were evil spies? Olive's character was adventurous and brave. The dark, damp, chilly basement was a very frightening place for her, but she knew she could find a This book won the 2010 Cybils award in middle grade speculative fiction. I liked how the author developed the suspense through the characters and settings. Olive wasn't sure who to trust, so I was left wondering what was actually going on. The woman in the painting seemed pretty and sweet, but why would the cats be warning Olive if they were evil spies? Olive's character was adventurous and brave. The dark, damp, chilly basement was a very frightening place for her, but she knew she could find answers down there. The tension builds to an exciting climax after Olive unknowingly releases a dangerous character.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lennie Grace

    This is my most favorite middle-grade series. :D I reread it every single year. It's spooky, creative, beautifully written. The illustrations in the physical copy are gorgeous, and the narration for the audio version is amazing. a lonely little girl moves into a creepy old house and slowly begins to unravel its secrets. there's something magical and creepy going on, and olive is determined to figure out what it is. complete with talking cats, magical paintings, and the standard oblivious parents This is my most favorite middle-grade series. :D I reread it every single year. It's spooky, creative, beautifully written. The illustrations in the physical copy are gorgeous, and the narration for the audio version is amazing. a lonely little girl moves into a creepy old house and slowly begins to unravel its secrets. there's something magical and creepy going on, and olive is determined to figure out what it is. complete with talking cats, magical paintings, and the standard oblivious parents, this is an amazing book. absolutely perfect for fans of creepy books like "Coraline". I highly recommend it! I'll be rereading the rest of the books soon. :D

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ivy Lake

    April is For Authors is such an amazing event! I met Jacqueline West, Lynda Hunt, Sharon Draper, and other various authors. This book kept me reading and hoping for more but the exposition was a little rocky as well as the background knowledge of the main character. Miss West was so nice although I didn't get to talk to her for long; she was so popular! April is For Authors is such an amazing event! I met Jacqueline West, Lynda Hunt, Sharon Draper, and other various authors. This book kept me reading and hoping for more but the exposition was a little rocky as well as the background knowledge of the main character. Miss West was so nice although I didn't get to talk to her for long; she was so popular!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    The Shadows was a well-told mystery with some effective thrills and chills thrown in for good measure. The unexpected scariness was a nice boon for me personally, and makes this an edgier choice for pre-teens. This is an excellent start to a series and definitely leaves me wanting to read the rest. Highly recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This book is a great escape, and just the start of the adventure for Olive and the readers who choose to follow her into Elsewhere. This first book in the series sets up an imaginative world that I can't wait to find out more about. Lots of fun, and funny too. Pick it up. This book is a great escape, and just the start of the adventure for Olive and the readers who choose to follow her into Elsewhere. This first book in the series sets up an imaginative world that I can't wait to find out more about. Lots of fun, and funny too. Pick it up.

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