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A Gathering of Shades Hardcover – May 10, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTempest; English Language edition (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060522941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060522940
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,829,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–After his father is killed in a car accident, 16-year-old Aidan and his mother move to a farm in the mountains of Vermont where his grandmother spends hours alone in her orchard. One evening, Aidan follows her and discovers that she is able to summon ghosts; they drink her blood and listen to stories of her daily life so that they, too, feel alive. Just like Memère, Aidan is able to see and talk with them. Soon he spots the ghost of a young boy who runs away whenever he sees Aidan, and the teen becomes obsessed with finding out whether this boy knows something about his father. The suspenseful story is drawn out as readers learn more about Aidan, his family, and the ghosts. The protagonist grapples with many issues, such as his father's death, his mother's depression, and his mysterious grandmother. The book frequently alludes to Homer's Odyssey, including its title, taken from the poem. Like Odysseus, Aidan is on a quest to find out about his family that takes him on many twists and turns. Even though some readers may have trouble interpreting some of the book's symbolism, the supernatural story, with its issues of grief and recovery, is well written, and many thoughtful teens will enjoy it.–Jane Cronkhite, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. Unlike Stahler's debut fantasy, Truesight (2004), this stand-alone novel is set on Earth--but as far as teenager Aidan is concerned, his grandmother's Vermont community, where he and his mother have relocated after his father's tragic death, might as well be another planet. At first it's simply the remoteness and red-neck culture that seem punishingly tedious. Then Aidan discovers that the area is a literal purgatory: each night, his grandmother meets with restless spirits in the forest, where she serves up a magical brew that imparts a fleeting taste of life. Eager for the closure that an encounter with his dad's ghost might bring, Aidan pursues an exhausting quest that pushes him toward a potentially devastating crossroads. Influencing his eventual decision to "put aside the dead and start thinking about the living" are some artificial elements (a redemptive literary encounter with Homer's The Odyssey, a thinly drawn romance with a local girl), but Stahler's eloquence on grief and yearning, combined with a vision of ghosts refreshingly distinct from depictions in "cheesy horror movies," will exert a powerful hold on many teens' imaginations. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on June 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
After Aidan's father tragically dies in an auto accident, he and his mother move to his grandmother's farm in Vermont. He just knows it's going to be hard going here. There will be long, boring days and certainly no one his age around. His grandmother Memere gives him a copy of Homer's THE ODYSSEY telling him it's a book that will help. Then his Uncle Danny (his father's brother) asks him if he would be willing to help out on his farm, and reluctantly he agrees --- after all, he can make some money and it's better than watching his mother mope around.

While all this is happening he can't help but notice how his grandmother leaves for a little walk into the nearby forest every night. She seems to come back refreshed and at ease with the world. When he follows her he is totally taken aback as he watches from his hiding place and sees strange people gathering around her:

...They were virtually silent as they drew closer, with only the faintest rustling of the grass to betray their presence. They crept forward with slow, shy movements, like wild animals unsure of their surroundings, ready to flee at a moment's notice. Strangest of all, there was an indefinite quality to them all, a washed-out element --- as if they'd been left out in the rain too long --- that seemed to blur the edges of their movement.

To his horror he discovers that the figures are ghosts and that they come each night to feed from a small birdbath in which Memere has mixed a few drops of her blood with water. This absolutely goes against everything Aidan has ever believed:

"This is ridiculous, Memere. Ghosts are just in stories and cheesy horror movies. They don't really exist."

"That's right, Aidan. Yet --- here they are," she said.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Couldn't put it down. The characters feel so true to life, and I especially loved the old woman!!
Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story captures the long slow summers of childhood in rural Vermont with all the magic and fantasy that come with growing up in the woods with only your imagination for company. That is the feeling your left with after finishing this novel. Remembering how vivid your imaginary creations would feel without civilization around to debunk them. Thank you for taking me back to a time when talking to ghosts about life was a favored pasttime.
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More About the Author

A fourth generation Vermonter, David Stahler Jr. lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where he writes and teaches English at his alma mater, Lyndon Institute, an independent high school in Lyndon Center, VT. He graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in English in 1994 and received his MA from Dartmouth College in 2001.

An author of YA Fiction across a variety of genres with an emphasis on the unusual, his books include the Truesight Trilogy (a science fiction series with a dystopian bent), as well as the supernatural novels Doppelganger and A Gathering of Shades, all published by HarperCollins. His latest work, Spinning Out, published by Chronicle Books, was a Kindle 100 selection for May 2012 and a Kindle Daily Deal selection for September 29, 2012.

His work has received numerous accolades--including a Best Book Award from the American Library Association, Le Prix Farniente, and numerous state reading list awards--and has been translated into French, Italian, and Chinese. You can learn more about him at The Accidental Novelist (http://davidstahlerjr.com)