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.
Darcy Jones is an orphan. She has been moved around a lot, but this time she’s finally in the same place two years in a row, with friends and classes she loves, and a foster mother she doesn’t mind. It’s safe to say that things are looking up for Darcy, until she meets menacing newcomer Conn and ends up as his partner for a school project. Eventually Darcy begins to trust Conn – and that’s when things really go south. Because Darcy isn’t who she seems, and neither is her world. Betrayals, danger and self-discovery are the hallmarks of this story of alternate worlds, alternate histories and the people who inhabit both.
Rutkoski writes addictive prose with flashes of brilliance, and The Shadow Society is peopled with smart characters, literary allusion and history. It’s an ordinary world to start, with a slow build of dangerous romance. Darcy’s thoughts of art, self-discovery and friendship are particularly well done. The real revelation is the second part of the book, with its parallel universe, betrayal and deception. The staggered lead-up to explosive action worked well in this case, and some of the mixed love/hate/distrust was very genuine as well.
What didn’t work? The villains. The portrayals of Orion and Meridien seemed tailor-made for series set-up. I have no doubt that they’ll be back in the next book, but I also have no real idea why they want to perpetrate evil acts. Their motivations weren’t fully explored. The end result was that instead of leaving things open for interpretation, the reader left those scenes empty-handed. Two other jarring plot points were friends showing up late in the story and the scene with Kellford. Tying things up in a bow quickly was convenient, but not the best choice for a complex story.
The story is honest about what it is: and it is NOT an easy ride off into the sunset. There were characters I knew I was supposed to love (I did). There were others I knew I was supposed to hate (eh). I ended up wishing that I didn’t feel so manipulated into those emotions, but I liked the gray area that was Conn, and I never questioned the intelligence of Darcy’s friends. Marie Rutkoski has a gift for painting personal conflict, and I look forward to reading more of her work.
Recommended for: fans of Michelle Sagara’s Silence, those who like equally deadly heroes and heroines, and anyone with a taste for young adult thrillers and fantasy with a hint of sci-fi sensibility.