Friday, January 31, 2014

Title: The Shadow Society
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux BYR
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Source: won a signed copy from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

After reading The Winner's Curse at the first of the year and falling head-over-heels for Marie Rutkoski's beautiful writing style and the beginning of what is sure to be a truly stunning trilogy, I knew I had to make time in my reading schedule for The Shadow Society.  I have a signed copy after all.  And then I saw that Kristen from My Friends Are Fiction was just starting it, and we decided to do a buddy read.  (You can check out her review here.)  This turned out to be a great decision because there was soooo much I wanted to discuss while reading, and Kristen was a fantastic buddy-reader. Probably doesn't hurt that we hardcore bonded over our love of this author's writing style, either.

To kick things off, I think I'd have to say that this novel has one of the best, most enticing prologues I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  I couldn't not read the book after that!  It packs a real punch, but it's the rest of the book that delivers.  The Shadow Society is this really awesome alternate history/multiverse story, but that's not even the half of it. That aspect comes in to play over the course of the novel, but I wouldn't say it's the focal point of the story.  No, that would probably be the war brewing between the Shades and humans in an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never happened.  But I'll get to that.
     "You stole it," I finally choked out. I felt as if Conn had seen me in nothing but my oldest, ugliest underwear.
I was a little worried about the amnesia plot in this story because those are always so hit or miss.  But Darcy's memory loss is due to some traumatic event in her childhood, and I can get on board with PTSD-related amnesia. Especially when the memories return in the fashion that they do for Darcy:  little by little, triggered by familiar faces and familiar places.  And then those pieces start to add up, and everything falls into place for the reader at the same time it does for Darcy.  I had my theories, of course, but considering the Shades are a completely new brand of paranormal creature, I was just as shocked as Darcy to learn the truth.

Darcy was a bit of an enigma at first.  She doesn't fit in anywhere, but she has this really tight-knit group of friends. She's been passed from foster home to foster home since she was first found outside a fire station at the tender age of five, but now she's got a loving foster mother by way of Marsha.  It seems that Darcy has finally found her place in this world...just in time to have it all taken away from her by a past -- another world -- she can't remember.  All things considered, I think she handles the fall-out rather admirably.

The Shades are, essentially, children of the shadows.  In their corporeal form, they look human, but they have the ability to make themselves invisible.  And they use this ability to hide among the humans in their world, following them around like shadows and spying on them.  For this reason, Darcy is valuable to both the Shades and the humans of that world. But she's especially important to Conn.

I don't know if you can call it a pattern when it only exists in two instances, but at the very least, the theme of betrayal is a commonality between both of the books I've read by Rutkoski.  I'm equally drawn to storylines involving betrayal, so I get it.  And I don't mind...I just think it's interesting how two stories can have the same basic premise but still be completely different and also captivating in their own rights.  And as Kristen stated in our discussion over this book during our buddy read, I'd much rather the tension in the story come from some type of betrayal, as opposed to a misbegotten love triangle.
     He grinned the first time I said it.  "Pleasure later, then," he replied. But later was always later than that for me, and he grew sullen. I knew that I could change that, could heal the insecurity that shape-shifted Orion from a sly jester into someone who pouted. He pouted sexily and looked very kissable. Really, he was very everything. But he wasn't for me. In the midst of the lies I had to tell and secrets I had to keep and secrets I had to unearth, it felt important to be true to myself.
I guess I should mention that there are two interested parties, but this is clearly an instance of the love T, which I don't mind.  Conn, despite his betrayal, is where Darcy's heart lies.  Orion was simply a friend who tried to force more from the relationship than Darcy was prepared to give.  Conn uses Darcy, but in the process -- and over weeks, while spending time together working on a school project in the Alter (their name for our world) -- they become something more to each other.  Neither is really sure what to make of the other, but it's clear (at least to the reader) that Darcy's feelings are reciprocated by Conn, before and after the betrayal.
     He slouched at his desk, but there was something a little calculated in his slumped shoulders and stretched out legs. I got the impression that he had riffled through his closet, found his Typical Teenager costume, and was trying it on.
     And now we come down to it. My suspicion: Conn McCrea wasn't exactly normal.
     My reasons? Let's just say it takes one to know one.
Conn was intriguing and confusing for a majority of the story, but he wasn't the only stand-out character aside from Darcy.  There were members of The Shadow Society that seemed to share Darcy's concerns for the welfare of humans, especially Savannah and Zephyr, but hardly any of the Shades could really be deemed trustworthy. But after reading Jacks and Queens at the Green Mill, I feel like I understand Zephyr a little better, anyway.  Then there were Darcy's friends from the Alter.  They were true friends, caring and funny and loyal to the end.  And they really shocked me at times, which endeared them to me further.

I think I should just go ahead and admit that I'm kind of in love with Rutkoski's gorgeous prose.  It was an entirely different experience reading this novel as compared to The Winner's Curse, especially knowing that The Shadow Society is a stand-alone, but I enjoyed this story immensely.  I cannot fathom that I have to wait over a year to get my hands on another Marie Rutkoski novel.  If you've already read and enjoyed The Winner's Curse, or if you fancy stories featuring themes of rebellion, love across dividing lines, or characters discovering that much of what they know is a lie, then I think you'll find something to appreciate in this novel.

GIF it to me straight:
This woman can write!

About the author:

Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She usually lives in New York City with her husband and two sons, but she and her family are living in Paris for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Find Marie:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. Yes...perfect review! You hit on things I totally forgot, haha. Did you read Marie's short story yet? It was so beautiful. I hope she writes more in between now and the next novel to help us through the wait. It'll be sooo long. This book was excellent, even with my high expectations after reading The Winner's Curse. I can't tell you how happy I am that you and I can share our love of books like this :-)

    1. Yep, I've read both her short stories...the one that goes along with this storyline and the one that's kind of a prequel to TWC. So good! If she hadn't already been on my favorite authors list after TWC, she would be after everything I've read of hers in the last week or so. :) I'm glad to have an awesome new buddy-reader, too! I kind of never want to read a book alone again...I need to discuss!!! :D Btw, how awesome were the Vicious chapters last night?!?

    2. YES! Vicious started great but it seems to be getting even better. I was seriously in awe reading last night. So happy we stuck with the 10 chapters because 5 would not have been enough. Well, you and I have very close reading tastes so I foresee many buddy reads!

      I've not read the short story associated with TSS...I'll have to look it up!

  2. Glad you liked this! I didn't enjoy it quite as much as you but I do agree the author can write! I'm so excited for The Winner's Curse!

    1. I'm so excited for you to read it! I wish you'd gotten one of those galleys so we could discuss already! But at least you get to meet the author! How freaking exciting!

  3. I have not read this woman's writing yet, but that gif is telling me too. lol. I love that it's a stand alone. I've been getting too mixed up in series books lately. I can't keep up! And I almost had a netgalley of the Winners curse, but I was email you when the email from netgalley came through and I was too late. Boo:(

    this ones seems really interesting. Not sure if I'm ready to head back to Chicago though. Still bitter .

    1. I feel the same...I'm trying my best not to start too many series this year, especially since so many of the series finales lately have been letdowns. :( Oh, so it's my fault you didn't get TWC? Boo! :P

      I feel you on not wanting to return to Chicago, but I promise, this is nothing like your last experience there...

  4. Oh my. This looks like a book I would absolutely devour. *adding to TBR list*

  5. Oh, I hope it is. I am really impressed so far with this author's work. Even her short stories are phenomenal. You'll have to let me know what you think when you get to TSS.

  6. I haven't read anything by this author yet, but I definitely plan on reading The Winner's Curse. I'll have to look this one up, as well. The shadows sound intriguing. I like how they can be seen or not seen. Love "ts" never really bother me, either. Great review!

  7. The Shadow Society is a very amazing book. It is still one of my favorite books. I have learned a lot from this. Marie Rutkoski is my favorite author. Thanks for sharing this honest review. Now it's time to avail water bottle for more information.


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