Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: August 27, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG, Paranormal
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase
Olivia wants a new life, and it might take ghosts to get it. A heartfelt, gently Gothic novel from Claire Legrand.
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother's left; her neglectful father, the maestro of a failing orchestra, has moved her and her grandmother into the city's dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn't get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia's help; if the hall is torn down, they'll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living; and soon it's not just the concert hall that needs saving.
This is another book that I read on my hiatus way back in July, but once again, a novel that really stuck to the back of my mind. The Year of Shadows is a MG novel, and a particularly beautiful one. It explored some pretty dark themes–literally and non-literally, and had the best characters.
I honestly loved all the characters in the end. The book starts with Oliva, and she’s had a really tough year–her mother left her without a word, and money started to become scarce in Olivia’s family. Her father, who Olivia calls the Maestro, made the decision to leave their old home, and to live in the concert hall instead, so Olivia’s family can save money as the Maestro tries to earn more money through conducting the local orchestra. Because of the Maestro’s absense, Olivia is alone in the back of the concert hall on most days after school. Her grandmother and a mysterious black cat are her only companions. It’s easy to feel sorry for Olivia, all alone and in not the best situations. She soon meets some people–dead and alive that begin to change her world, however.
Igor the cat was my favourite supporting character by far. His no-nonsense and blunt remarks did brighten up the novel a fair bit. He’s such a smart cat, and now I want an Igor as well. Olivia also gains a partnership with Henry, as they try to help the ghosts of the Concert Hall. Henry and Olivia’s dynamic was heart-warming, and Henry’s character didn’t go to waste either–there’s a lot of depth that is spent in his past and his own family life.
This book was as beautifully written as every other reviewer has stated. I wanted to eat all the words up, but quite frankly, it’s not possible in today’s world. Though, when I grow up I plan to invent some machine that can turn books into edible food, and taste all the beauty and magic. Sounds totally possible, yeah?
Just watch me.
We explore a fair bit of themes in this novel. The main story line is Olivia and Henry trying to help the ghosts leave the world by finding the one thing they left in our world that anchors them. And the only way for Olivia and Henry to help the ghosts is to let them ‘possess’ them as they relive their last moments before death, and seek out the thing that makes them unable to leave. It got pretty dark when the tweens were possessed because there’s a bit of murder, a lot of death and was rather remorseful. But, it all was handled ideally for an MG read. There’s also the constant nagging question of why Olivia’s mother left Olivia and the exploration of how Olivia comes to terms with it.
The Year of Shadows was a mesmerizing read that was beautiful and absolutely magical. If you love MG and haven’t read this: WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?
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