Girl in the Shadows
Author: Gwenda Bond
Date of Publication: 5th July 2016
There is a certain mystique surrounding circus life which I would imagine translates well into YA. However over the years I’ve read surprisingly few fantasy YA books set in the circus.
In Girl in the Shadows, Gwenda Bond certainly creates a great romantic partnership with Moira and Dez. Them together was perhaps the very best thing about the book. Their relationship develops steadily and naturally, with their feelings for each other increasing as their trust for each other grows. I really enjoyed Dez and I liked they way Moira acted when she was with him. When she was on her own / with other characters, she fluttered between great and okay in terms of characterization and decision making.
There were some stand out supporting characters – I really wanted more of Dita – and of Nancy Moroni! I realised afterwards that this is a sequel, with the previous book focusing on Jules and Remy. I would have loved to have read their Romeo and Juliet style adventure first, but alas – by the time I was aware that it existed, it was too late. Can book number three be a Nancy prequel??
For all the good that there was, I feel there was a substantial sacrifice for the great central relationship between Dez and Moira – namely the story. Often the plot felt a little jumbled and rushed, with not enough time spent on developing Moira’s growing friendships with the other members of the Cirque. As a result of this, some actions by Moira, and the baddies, seemed a little silly. I wasn’t sold on the Rex as a big bad either, feeling that his character was just a little underwhelming. The whole lore of magic felt a little lost among other things, and often a little unclear on its own rules.
Overall, this was a fun read, but it was less miraculous and more middling in terms of enjoyment for me.