The Year of Shadows by Claire LegrandThe Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand

The Year of Shadows

byClaire LegrandIllustratorKarl Kwasny

Paperback | August 26, 2014

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Olivia wants a new life—and her wish might be granted by the unlikeliest allies. A heartfelt, gently Gothic novel from Claire Legrand that School Library Journal calls a “not-too-scary ghost story.”

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother’s left, her neglectful father—the maestro of a failing orchestra—has moved her and her grandmother into the city’s dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.

Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help—if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.

Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living…and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.
Title:The Year of ShadowsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:416 pages, 7.62 × 5.12 × 1.2 inShipping dimensions:7.62 × 5.12 × 1.2 inPublished:August 26, 2014Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442442956

ISBN - 13:9781442442955

Appropriate for ages: 8


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A smart, funny and spooky ghost story Like many middle grade stories, The Year of Shadows starts off with a simple story – a girl, her father and her grandmother move into the town’s philharmonic and find that it is haunted. But that simple story soon morphs into a complex tale that deals with friendship, family, grief and bravery. It is touching and frightening and at times heart breaking. So in a word – perfect. The star of our story is Olivia Stellatella. Olivia isn’t your standard middle grade protagonist. She’s angry and bitter and wants to be left alone. But there is a reason for her poor attitude. Her mother has left them, they are forced to sell their home and move into the philharmonic and her father seems oblivious to it all. She withdraws from other people, because other people have let her down. She’s learned the only person she can rely on is herself. The emotion in this book is very real. You feel all of Olivia’s frustrations and loneliness right along with her. It’s heart breaking. The Year of Shadows brought tears to my eyes more than once. Thankfully there are some incredibly supportive figures in Olivia’s life who won’t let her give up on the world. First there’s Nonnie, her adorable, scarf obsessed grandmother. And there’s Joan her passionate, out spoken lunch-mate. And most importantly Henry. I adore Henry. He is a great friend to Olivia (even when she’s not being a great friend back) and he has a fascinating story of his own. Not just a secondary character, but a major player. The back and forth between him and Olivia was spot on. They were such a dynamic duo. And then there’s the ghosts. Claire Legrand actually approaches the ghost angle from two directions There are your traditional scary ghosts – the shades. But then there are Olivia’s ghosts. Loveable characters who she goes above and beyond to help out. They may not be the stars of the story but you are cheering for them to find their anchors and move on (like Casper!). As a result The Year of Shadows treads the line between frightening and fascinating. The Year of Shadows is more than just a ghost story. It deals with complex and relevant issues – from divorce, to poverty, to what it means to be a family and standing up for what you believe in. Oh and there’s music! Lots of great music. Legrand’s descriptions are fantastic, she in clearly someone who appreciates good music. For example this passage, ““It’s a strange feeling, when you hear a good piece of music. It starts out kind of shaky, this hot, heavy knot in your chest. At first it’s tiny, like a spot of light in a dark room, but then it builds, pouring through you. And the next thing you know, everything from your forehead down to your fingers and toes is on fire. You feel like the hot, heavy knot in your chest is turning into a bubble. It’s full of everything good in the world, and if you don’t do something–if you don’t run or dance or shout to everyone in the world about this music you’ve just heard–it’ll explode.” The Year of Shadows may be the best middle grade novel I’ve read this year. I enjoyed Legrand’s début - The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls – but this is even better. Olivia, Henry, Nonnie and even the Maestro will stick with me for some time to come. Recommendation: Absolutely recommended for middle grade readers. The Year of Shadows is a smart, funny and spooky ghost story. What more do you want? This would be a great present for young readers! Or you know people who just love ghost stories.
Date published: 2013-09-07

Editorial Reviews

"A sad, happy, strange book, with some of the most memorable ghosts I've ever read. It's full of shadows, but it's also full of sparks and light and big, glowing scenes, and while it'll break your heart more than once, it somehow manages to glue it all back together by the end. I loved it."