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In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo {4 Stars}

In the Shadows is a marvelous combination of stories told in alternating illustrated pages and text. While it takes most of In the Shadows for the two stories to interweave, the revelation when they do is pretty awesome. The illustrations are gorgeous in full color and fully convey the action taking place. I’m really tempted to now go find the rest of Jim Di Bartolo’s work! The text story written by Kiersten White combines spooky elements of a mysterious cult with the fun of a summer in a small town for our five main characters. If you enjoy art interwoven with fantasy, you can’t miss In the Shadows!

Note: I received In the Shadows from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo {4 Stars}

In the Shadows by Jim Di Bartolo, Kiersten White
Published by Scholastic Press on April 29th, 2014
Genres: Dark Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch. 

Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.


4 Stars


  • Have I mentioned enough yet how beautiful In the Shadows’ illustrations are? Between each text chapter there are 2-10 pages of full color, graphic-novel-esque panels telling a separate story from the text. Some of the less-spooky ones I wish I could embiggen (totally a word) and stick on a wall; such lovely spring scenes :D.
  • While the two completely separate (seeming) stories might be confusing at first, I highly suggest just enjoying the two stories as separate plots until you see how they fit together. It’s pretty epic and made me want to go back and reread it all over again!
  • In the Shadows gets pretty spooky at times, but I found it to be a nice balance between tension from the presence of the cult and beautiful summer days. The five kids do plenty of running around and exploring the small town, and it makes me excited for summer to arrive, haha.
  • Normally five MC’s seems a bit much to me, but I found each of the kids to have their own interesting thing going on despite the short length of In the Shadows. I would have liked to get to know each of them even better of course, but the glimpses you get were still enough for me to value each of the characters’ presence in the story.


  •  So there is this mysterious cult that seems to have some magic ability right? That’s about all you get to find out, with a little bit more explained at the end. I really wanted to know way more about this group and their magic. Do we see the only magic they have, or can they do other things? How did they form up and figure out this magic anyway? Who are all the other people on the lists and how are they involved?
  • Along those same lines, I wanted there to be a little bit more text in the illustrations, such as dialogue boxes or names worked in. I appreciate the mystery that remained about who the main person in the illustrated story is, but I have no real idea who the baddies that he was fighting are in relation to the text story and I want to know! Or maybe there should be a companion book that swaps the stories so we get illustrations for the text story and text for the illustrated story :D.
  • This point is a weakness for me because I’m a scaredy cat and more just a general point of information for those who might also be scaredy-cats ;-). The illustrations get downright spooky. In the Shadows isn’t a great book to read before bed since the illustrations make the spooky things all the more sudden and real. I actually was a bit afraid of getting nightmares, but I was too exhausted after staying up to read, hehe.


In the Shadows is a wonderfully unique book that definitely pulls off this combination of illustrated and text-based stories. I really hope to see more from this collaboration or similar collaborations in the future since In the Shadows was just so much fun to read! The art is quite beautiful and I can’t recommend In the Shadows enough to those dark fantasy fans that enjoy art to go along with their books :). Also I really don’t think the ebook version would be able to do justice to these illustrations, but I haven’t tried it, so I have no actual evidence.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I still have a soft spot for comics/graphic novels, and the spooky elements sound pretty awesome. Sign me up! :D
    Kel recently posted…Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2 stars)My Profile

  2. Dude I loved that there weren’t any real text in the illustrations! glad you still liked it as much as I did!
    Tabitha (@Pabkins) recently posted…Sharon Lynn Fisher dishes on the Sci-Fi Fantasy of BioPunk & GiveawayMy Profile

  3. It’s a beautiful thing when two seemingly separate stories merge together in surprising and wonderful ways – just that bit made me want to check this one out even more than before!! 5 MC’s does sound like a lot but I’m glad that their personalities seem unique enough to not be confusing. Thanks for the warning on the spookiness too – as a fellow scaredy-cat, I’ll have to remember to read this one in the daytime o.O Great review Anya ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: AllegiantMy Profile

  4. I needz to know what the mysterious cult is all about. It would bug me not too. I am way to curious (read nosey) not too :)
    Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Bout of Book 10: I am in like Flynn!My Profile


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