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Shadows    by Robin McKinley order for
by Robin McKinley
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's something different from Robin McKinley author of some of my favorite YA fantasy novels ever, like The Blue Sword and Beauty. The genre is full of wicked stepmothers. But seventeen-year-old Maggie, McKinley's teen heroine in this story, has a new stepfather and is terrified of the shadows she sees all around him.

Her mom's new husband, Val (short and hairy with a funny accent), is a professor of philosophy from Oldworld, where they still use magic and avoid tech. Newworld worships science and has used it to eradicate the magic-carrying gene from its population. Maggie's brother Ran gets along well with Val, and even her crazy dog Mongo seems to like him. But Maggie can't abide the shadows and avoids Val, even though that hurts her mom.

Luckily Maggie has her best friend Jill to confide in. Jill has shared her own big secret, that she occasionally has foresight, previews of bad things ahead. Maggie is also close to her friend Takahiro, who has taught her to fold kami guardians out of paper. Maggie folds origami paper constantly. And she spends as much time as she can helping at the animal shelter, to avoid being at home.

This is a world that's constantly on guard against cobeys, dangerous magical eruptions. Oldworld fights them with magic, Newworld with its Watchguard and tech. Maggie begins to suspect that her stepfather is an evil magician. Then the gorgeous Casimir shows up in town and shows an immediate interest in Maggie - he's from Oldworld and is here 'to study the physics of the worlds.'

When a big cobey erupts around Maggie and Casimir, she frantically folds pages from her algebra tome, which seems to have developed a life of its own. Casimir calls her a mgdada, but she has no idea what happened or how to do it again. This event becomes the catalyst for the revelation of all kinds of secrets and unlikely alliances are needed to survive the dangers ahead.

When it's over, it's a new world for all concerned. Don't miss this one - Shadows is an engrossing, magical read and I really hope that it's launching a new series as I want more of Maggie and her perilous world!

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