From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This fast-paced novel is set in Newworld, where magic is illegal and individuals who carried the gene for it had their DNA modified several generations ago. Teenager Maggie is still reeling from the death of her father when her mother falls in love with a mysterious man, Val, who's from Oldworld, where magic is still used. However, it's the shadows that follow Val that worry her and not just the fact that her mother has moved on. Soon after meeting Casimir, a cute, recent immigrant from Oldworld, things really start to get strange. When a "cobey," a dangerous gap in reality, opens up at a local park, Maggie instinctively closes it by making origami talismans out of pages from her math textbook. Once her mother and stepfather finally reveal their own histories with magic, Maggie is exposed to a side of the world she didn't know existed. This fantasy focuses on the relationships among characters. There is enough Newworld vocabulary to create and support the strange and enchanted setting, but not so much as to confuse or frustrate readers. Shadows is a dense book in parts, but teens will be motivated to keep reading by the exciting action, lovable characters, and witty dialogue.-Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
McKinley’s distinctive voice instantly draws the reader into an alternative America where magic, once fairly commonplace, has been genetically removed from the population. Although the government attempts to control magic with science, there are still collisions and unexplained breaks between worlds that release strange energy and beings into Newworld. Our narrator and guide is Maggie, whose mother has gotten remarried to an Oldworlder named Val. Val is accompanied by creepy shadows only Maggie can see, which makes her dislike her stepfather even more. She works after school at an animal shelter, and it is her intense love of animals that helps unravel the multiple plot threads, which include several romances and origami that can contain magical outbreaks. Fascinating backstories reveal that magic isn’t as dead in Newworlders as the government would like everyone to believe. Maggie’s wry and witty conversational tone is an excellent vehicle for relating her fantastic yet logical adventures. McKinley’s smooth but swift pace sets the stage for a welcome sequel. Grades 7-12. --Debbie Carton