Shadows is a compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle's End, Pegasus and Sunshine
Maggie knows something's off about Val, her mom's new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won't have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But-more importantly-what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie's great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.
Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He's from Oldworld too-and he's heard of Maggie's stepfather, and has a guess about Val's shadows. Maggie doesn't want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.
In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie's discovering the world will need both to survive.
About the author:
Robin McKinley has won many awards, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, and the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine.
She lives in Hampshire, England with her husband, author Peter Dickinson
Check out her blog at robinmckinleysblog.com.
McKinley (Pegasus) introduces a modern civilization much like our own, but in which Oldworld (roughly Europe) is magical, while Newworld (approximately North America) has embraced science and genetically engineered its citizens to be free of magic. Both worlds, however, are subject to cobeys (cohesion breaks) interdimensional storms that can produce earthquakelike destruction, or worse. Maggie, a typical 17-year-old, loves animals, origami, and boys, but is upset because her widowed mother has remarried a man named Val, an Oldworlder ("I've seen orangutans that wore clothes better," Maggie gripes). Val was supposedly stripped of magic before immigrating to Newworld, so why can Maggie see a terrifying thicket of shadows around him? And why are they trying to communicate with her? McKinley's characters and dialogue make this novel a joy: Maggie is a brash yet vulnerable protagonist, and her family, Val, and two possible boyfriends (both of whom may be magical) are well developed. The magic system isn't all that fleshed out, but the culture of Newworld is a fascinating amalgam of the everyday and the strange. All in all, a delightful read. Ages 12 up.