Sophie, in Shadow Paperback – March 30, 2014
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An entertaining and intriguing novel that takes a young girl traumatized by her escape from the Titanic, into the completely different and mysterious world of India in the early part of the 20th century. This well-told, fast-moving story can be enjoyed by all ages. Annie Boulanger, Burnaby Now
"Eileen Kernaghan creates a sense of wondrous dislocation for the reader. a darkly beautiful reminder that every place is haunted, every locale filled with ghosts of memory from the past. Sophie, in Shadow reminds readers that we dwell in a place of fantasy, of wonder and excitement and that those dreamy places of magic and mystery are always steeped in the shadows of past horrors and veiled in secrets We are always one step through the veil of time away from tragedy." -- Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada
This book is heartily recommended to anyone re-reading A Passage to India this summer, and to anyone whose childhood summers included Kipling's Kim... This book is for anyone who fears that young adult books are short on literary value and too long on popular culture. In the timeless style of L.M. Montgomery and E.M. Forster, this book is simply a treat. -- Tanita Davis, Finding Wonderland
Historically, this is a descriptive and engrossing read on all aspects of life in early 20th century British India. It has a twist of mystery and a hint of the supernatural, but it is also a clever study of the customs and culture of Buddhism, as explored by one of the characters who helped Sophie understand her visions. -- Arleigh Johnson, HNR Issue 70 (November 2014)
From the Author
On a personal note: in 1912 my maternal grandfather decided to emigrate with his wife and five children from England to Canada. Their plan was to make the crossing on the much-publicized maiden voyage of SS Titanic, but they were too late to book accommodation, and traveled instead on the next available ship. In the years leading up to the centennial of the Titanic disaster, I was reminded of how such random events can decide the very fact of our existence. Sophie's story, like my own family history, is a narrative of "What If's?".
- Paperback : 248 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1927068946
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 1927068940
- Reading level : 14 and up
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
- Publisher : Thistledown Press (March 30, 2014)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,550,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I approach fiction about India, especially fiction involving young English girls with supernatural abilities, with a certain amount of caution, looking carefully for stereotypes, romanticization, and neo-colonial baggage. Happily, Sophie, In Shadow did a good job of not bothering me! In large part this is because we stick closely to Sophie's point of view--she is aware that she has a lot of learning to do, and is willing to question the social norms of the very tail end of the British raj. It is still very much a European point of view, but the reader can't reasonably expect more from this particular character's story.
There was much I enjoyed--I am a huge fan of Kipling's Kim, so it was great to see Sophie becoming involved in the last years of the Great Game, including a bit where a German agent is pursued through the mountains! And I am also a fan of being educated through historical fiction--before reading this book, I had not particular thoughts on what was happening in India during WW I. And Sophie herself, and her cousins, are interesting characters with believable motivations, interests, and aspirations. Added interest came from a secondary character, a friend of Jean's who was a real person--Alexandra David-Néel , a French-Belgian spiritualist, anarchist, Buddhist, writer, and explorer. I may well have to seek out more about her! The paranormal elements of the story are enough to add fantastic zest, but are not so much so as to make Sophie a special snowflake saving India (thank goodness!). Sophie's visions do not take over the book--for the most part, it reads as historical fiction--so don't expect this to be full-blown paranormal fantasy.
In short, Sophie, in Shadow is historical fantasy that both educates and entertains, that I particularly recommend to fans of Kim!
Kernaghan's young adult novels are those I thoroughly enjoy reading because they are compelling, historical, and laced with a dash of the supernatural. Sophie, in Shadow meets all these criteria for me, as well as delivering language I admire. While the books are categorized as fantasy, they happen in the real world without the supernatural overpowering the story. I like that.
The novel takes place in British India in 1914 as the Raj begins to fade and the Great War is starting to be felt. Kernaghan's skill in painting the setting makes India a character to be heard, smelt, tasted, and experienced intimately. She creates a strong picture of the unrest, terrorism, espionage, kidnapping, and intolerance that the main characters live through. Teenaged Sophie arrives in Calcutta as a traumatised orphan who survived the Titanic catastrophe, to live with a family of cousins she's never met. But she has a strange and unsettling gift that alarms her. (Saying more will spoil the story.)
Sophie is also a perceptive young woman who picks up on discrepancies in the information she is hearing and actions she is observing. Her character is continually stressed and she learns to deal with the situations with courage and compassion. At the end, she comes to terms with loss, fear, and her strange gift. Kernaghan's deft writing makes Sophie real and has the reader "on side" on page one.
Sophie, in Shadow is a page turner and the reader is pulled along by excellent pacing and tension on every page. It has a sophistication that many YA novels fail to deliver, and teenagers who are readers will appreciate. So will adults — as so many have found with Kernaghan's previous books.
Highly recommended for all who love history and the unexplained.
Top reviews from other countries
At the story’s opening Sophie is being sent to distant relatives in far away India—she believes she will at last be just plain Sophie Pritchard and not a public curiosity. However, this is not to be.
Though welcomed lovingly by Jean and Tom Grenville-Smith and their precocious daughter, Alex, she is in a land where “the veils between worlds are thin.” Visions now swarm to her, “like dark water seeping through the fabric of time.” The constant terror threatens to overwhelm her. A friend of Jennie’s, Alexandra, an “eccentric” recluse teaches Sophie that Power comes with foreknowledge. Can she learn to use her gift with understanding and strength? Even in this far-away place, the horrors of War infiltrate as spies and insurrectionists spread fear and death—threatening even her new family.
Readers will enjoy the author’s vivid, skillful writing that with simple well-drawn strokes takes us to join Sophie in the Calcutta of 1914. I would highly recommend this book to both Young Adults and Adults alike, anyone who enjoys a well-researched historical adventure with intriguing mystical elements.