Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Shadow Hills

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

publisher: Egmont USA

release date: July 13th, 2010

edition: ARC from YA Addict ARC Tours

intended audience: Young adult


description from goodreads:
His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her. Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry. After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all. But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Review: This was such an outstanding debut---thrilling and romantic, with a little who-done-it mystery thrown in! I had read the first chapter on Anastasia Hopcus' website and was already hooked before I even had the actual book in hand. So many great elements: dealing with loss, friendship, romance, feuding families, murder, and lots of spookiness! So intriguing from beginning to end!

I loved that the paranormal aspect of this book was completely unconventional. There were no vampires or werewolves (not that those are bad..not by any means!) but what the author created was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Something so out there that the idea bordered on Ray Bradbury-style science fiction. I don't want to give it away, but it really sets this story apart from all the others.

Phe (Persephone) and Zach were the main characters. Phe came across as a very real teenage girl, who has made some very real mistakes and had quite an emotional blow with the mysterious death of her older sister, but she is strong and independent, ready to pick up the pieces, move on, and find out the truth. I loved her no-backing-down attitude and she had a good sense of adventure. I like that Zach, while having tons of smokiness and mystery about him, he was not characterized as a "bad boy" that you see so much of in the YA these day. Again, not that I have anything against a good bad boy hottie---Zach's character was just so refreshing.
The whole cast of characters was so well written. I couldn't help feeling that each of the supporting characters, while not the main focus, had their moment to shine, and I loved that. My favorite was Toy, the computer savvy, tiny-statured friend (hmm, tiny,...maybe that was why I related to her!)

I really enjoyed how big a part of the story music was. It led to my discovery of Gogol Bordello! I had no idea if all of the bands mentioned in the book were real bands so I looked this one up. In hindsight, I wish I had written down all the songs and bands mentioned so I could look them all up while I had the book...now I will have wait for the release, but I plan to buy each song and make a read-along sounds track for when I read Shadow Hills again!

Favorite Quote: My face, so similar to Athena's, was just another reminder of what my parents had lost. Like the wisp of smoke hanging in the air after a candle is snuffed out.


  1. thanks for the great review! this seems really different from a lot of other paranormal novels, and i'm really excited about reading it

  2. Really can't wait to read this one. It's getting some great reviews!

  3. Sounds awesome. Another great paranormal book to read. Great review.

  4. Three things about your review make this book sound so good: 1) lack of vamps and weres (I love them, but it's cool that this is a paranormal story without them); 2) Zach is mysterious without being a "bad boy;" and 3) Toy!! The way you described her makes me want to read more about her. And you can't go wrong with a name like that. :-) Great review, Becky!

  5. This sounds so good can't wait to read it!