Shadow Girl by Liana Liu

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The house on Arrow Island is full of mystery.

Yet when Mei arrives, she can’t help feeling relieved. She’s happy to spend the summer in an actual mansion tutoring a rich man’s daughter if it means a break from her normal life—her needy mother, her delinquent brother, their tiny apartment in the city. And Ella Morison seems like an easy charge, sweet and well behaved.

What Mei doesn’t know is that something is very wrong in the Morison household.

Though she tries to focus on her duties, Mei becomes increasingly distracted by the family’s problems and her own complicated feelings for Ella’s brother, Henry. But most disturbing of all are the unexplained noises she hears at night—the howling and thumping and cries.

Mei is a sensible girl. She isn’t superstitious; she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Yet she can’t shake her fear that there is danger lurking in the shadows of this beautiful house, a darkness that could destroy the family inside and out… and Mei along with them.

This was the most unghostie ghostie book I’ve read.

I was expecting ghosts on islands, ghosts haunting little girls, ghosts haunting big girls, ghosts in lighthouses, ghosts in creepy rich islands, ghosts in dreams, ghosts out of dreams, ghosts doing scary things, ghosts doing thrilling things, GHOSTS. OKAY, I WAS EXPECTING GHOSTS.

What I got? Our main character wandering around doing things. Tutoring. Planning parties. More tutoring. We talked about the ghost more than we saw the ghosts doing ghost things, and we didn’t even talk about the ghost that much.

So, um, clearly you can see my lack of ghostie goodness that I was given. So there had to be some excitement in other ways, right? Other captivating plots that kept us from what I read in the synopsis as the most important part? Well, not so much. I mean, there was some journeying that took place in emotional and mental ways, but it was nothing that constituted overtaking a possible paranormal plot.

I think Liu had some great material to make a book focused on the problems that she had going on with the Morison family, but I think the story got too muddled of the in between of paranormal and contemporary. I think this story would have been captivating if Liu had delved deeper into Mei’s struggles of being her own family along with her family woes of a screw up brother and absent father along with the tension and drama of the Morison family. However, the addition of the ghost made it confusing and there wasn’t proper time and focus to spend on the story’s particulars.

The characters were okay. Mei was okay, and I got where she was coming from at part. I think the issue was that most were never fully fleshed out for me. I wanted to love and adore Ella, but I just felt kind of eh about her. I thought the same about the rest of the family including the love interest, Henry. I never really super super super connected with Mei either. I just thought they were surface level, okay, and I wanted more.

The ending was intriguing as well. Intriguing in the way that I give kudos to Liu for making some things majorly realistic, but also I’m really confused. I feel like something was just thrown in there for no reason to clear up/make things thrilling in the paranormal plot, and it just made no sense. There was no real explanation for it, and even though most horror/thrillers want to give you an open ended ending to make it more scary or something, but this just made no sense and I’m still confused.

cinderella tag
Cinderella is glad for the lack of ghosties.

The writing was okay. It moved pretty fast. Liu’s writing is simple and straight to the point which I always like in my books. I got through the story pretty quickly even though it could have gone a bit slow with a slower pacing.

Overall, I wanted quite a bit more in this book. I think Liu had a lot of potential with the book, but it got lost in its ghostie/paranormal plot. There wasn’t anything scary or really any ghosties except for maybe like two one page dream sequences, and I wanted the contemporary half to be deeper. Liu had some good things in the story, though, and her writing was such a breeze to read. 2 crowns and a Cinderella rating!


What do you think? How much ghosties do you need in your ghostie books? Have you read this book? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


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