REVIEW: In The Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo

This book is about five teenagers who find out about a secret society that specializes in immortality. There is Minnie and Cora, sisters who help their mom with a boarding house; Thom and Charles, brothers who are dealing with the fact that Charles will die at a young age from illness; then, there is Arthur, who is a mystery who blends into the shadows – we find out more about him towards the end. And that, folks, is really all of the synopsis I can give you. I finished this two days ago and I’m still floored.

1. The way the book is organized and the way the story is told is so different from any book I’ve ever read.

So, this book is a hybrid. If a graphic novel and a regular novel were to have a baby, it would be In the Shadows. The text story is written by Kiersten White, and having never read her work before, I am so ready to read more. The art story is by Jim Di Bartolo, who I met at the YALSA Coffee Klatch at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. His mutton chops are amazing, but his artwork transcends the awesomeness of his facial hair. While the art and text stories kind of say different things, the art story tends to give a history to the text story. Not to mention, both stories are phenomenally done.

2. The writing was accentuating the art and vice versa.

Sometimes, the art story confused me, but then we jumped right back into the text chapters. The text was amazing and it was so engrossing. I finished most of this book in one day. The story follows these kids as they attempt to discover and bring down a secret organization dealing in immortality. This kept me guessing until the last few chapters, even with the art story to help it along.

3. The characters were relatable.

The five kids seemed like kids I knew or kids I used to be. Other than Arthur, who is an old soul and he arrives in a cloud of mystery. We never really find out much about Arthur. The book starts out with Cora’s run in with the town witch; she then becomes more serious, reserved, and scared of adventure. Minnie is full of fire and adventure. She always wants to find something interesting. They have foils in that of Thom and Charles. Thom is more serious and Charles is the playful one. Although, it is slightly ironic that Charles is more fun, since he is sick and only given a short while to live. I started out as that fun-loving kid, then grew into the serious kid, since I would always disappear into my books rather than deal with people.

4. The artwork is absolutely phenomenal.

So, since I sat down and had coffee with Jim Di Bartolo (I actually drank water, I hate coffee) I have some insider information. So, the artwork is absolutely stupendous – better than any art I’ve seen in any graphic novel or comic I’ve ever read. So, since he was showing us the book, my best friend asked him what he used to create the art. The short answer is he used everything except oil, including digital. It is so detailed and perfect, I can only imagine how hard he toiled over the art story. I can’t fathom the amount of time that took – especially as a husband and a father (Di Bartolo is married to Laini Taylor of Daughter of Smoke and Bone fame. Can you say coolest couple ever?!). I’ll stop rambling – I think you get the point.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS. I’ve told you as much as I can without giving any spoilers. I think you need to read this if you love adventure, honesty, intrigue, immortality, danger, and a little bit of magic. This book is out in the world, so clicky clicky on the link to get it! By the way, Di Bartolo warned me about the difference between the Kindle and print versions of this. He said the artwork isn’t the same if you read this on a Kindle, and I would have to agree. As much as I love my Kindle, this would not have been the same. Plus, this book smells AMAZING. I cannot explain in words how good this book smelled. Just know it’ll take your nose to pleasure town and you’ll be sniffing it the whole time you read it – and probably after you’re finished, too.

Clicky clicky to Order

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