Harley is a troubled teenager. Rebellious and angry, her view on life is wrapped around her own pain and emotions. Her mother is gone and in her stead she has a stepmother she hates and a baby brother everyone loves. Her boyfriend is a drug addict and criminal and becoming borderline abusive. She is only just turning sixteen.
As she turns sixteen an invitation comes to her door. A birthday invite to receive a free gift from a unique shop that just opened up. As she goes to receive her gift she finds that she shares her birth date with three of her classmates and they are each given “a shadow box.”
“..The four of you have been blessed with a great gift. Well, it’s a gift for you, but a curse for someone else…”
The town of Shadow Pines has a secret. People disappear. People are killed. Much more often, for a town so small, then should be happening. Everyone thinks it is the old man who lives in the woods. Shadow Pines very own serial killer. But the truth is something far different and more difficult to believe.
The store clerk explains that the shadow boxes are very special. Harley and the other three can use them to trade with the shadows. They offer up sacrifices to the shadows or the shadows will come for some one they love. They must make the decision who to give to the shadows because the shadows must be fed.
In all honesty, I could have put the book down in the first 90 pages and just not finished. The beginning is that much of a chore to get through and Harley is that dis-likable as a character. But what we learn as the story goes on is that there are layers upon layers of secrets that hold this small town together and as we make it through the first part of this book; we are only seeing it through Harley’s limited vision. Other characters step in and the book begins to flesh out and the story begins to give up its secrets.
And here is what V.B. Marlowe does so well with this book. The secrets Marlowe tells, open up even more mysteries to unravel. Who are the shadows? Why is the store clerk involved and who does she really work for? What connection between the four chosen? Is it just their birthdays? Or does it have to do that each one has lost a family member? Why does Harley and her friend need to go to the doctor and be kept on medication? Some are told and even more are kept hidden.
But at the crux of this story is the morale dilemma. It is very much a Sophie’s Choice scenario. If you use the box, you condemn a human being to the shadows. If you don’t use the box, you condemn someone you love to the shadows. Either way, someone will die, only it is up to you to choose.
Shadow, Shadow moves slowly in an age where we want everything to be fast and now. But the payoff is there and it is very much worth the journey.
A terrific read.
Book One of The Shadow Pines Trilogy~312 pages
I received a free kindle version of this book from NetGalley for a honest review.