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Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond
Publisher / Year: Skyscape - July 5, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic.
When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future.
But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows.
Before I get started with my thoughts, why don't we just take a moment to appreciate the splendor of this cover! I love everything about it. I love the font and the colors and how it is all arranged, but I also love the little details of the mask, the playing cards, the knives, and the hearts, all of which are significant to the story. Bravo cover designers! Bravo!
Girl in the Shadows is a companion novel to Girl on a Wire, the first book in the Cirque American series, and my appreciation of this book was definitely that much greater because I had read and enjoyed the first book. The two books have different main characters, but the setting is the same, and, more importantly, the central conflict in each revolves around the same small magical object. Beyond that it was so much fun for me to visit some old characters, even if they weren't taking center stage this time around. (Hello, Jules! Hello, Remy!) And, I also enjoyed getting to know some of the side characters from Girl on a Wire a little better in this second book. (Dita, darling, you are swell.)
Last year we did a post featuring books set in circuses and sideshows. In putting together that post, I found that the circus is a setting that really appeals to me, and, I quickly rediscovered that love within the first few pages of Girl in the Shadows. I think I like how circus folk have a life that is so outside the mainstream, and that is definitely the case with Moira. She grew up traveling with her famous magician father and working behind the scenes at his Las Vegas show.
Moira wishes to become a magician herself, and her father is adamantly against this. So, feeling like she has no other option, Moira auditions for the Cirque American. Right away strange things begin to happen, and herein is another reason I enjoy circus settings--they present the perfect opportunity to mingle stage magic with the real deal. Moira's magic, its origins, and her estranged mother play a large role in the mystery of Girl in the Shadows.
Moira truly has a lot on her plate. There's the whole proving herself to her father thing (and who are we kidding, to herself as well), the issue of controlling her newly awakened power, and being on her own for the first time. As if things aren't complicated enough there's this knife-throwing love interest that the reader is not quite sure can be trusted for most of the book. Really, it's a pretty great time. Girl in the Shadows is all the sleight of hand and tricks of Now You See Me plus the magical underworld of White Cat. It's a book full of mystery, magic, and suspense.
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About the Author:
Gwenda Bond is the author of the young adult novels Lois Lane: Fallout and Girl on a Wire, among others. Lois Lane: Double Down and Girl in the Shadows, a companion novel to Girl on a Wire set in the Cirque American, are next up in 2016. She’s also hard at work on some secret projects you don’t know about yet.
Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Locus Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. She has an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe. There are rumors she escaped from a screwball comedy, and she might have a journalism degree because of her childhood love of Lois Lane.