cover image The Shrike and the Shadows

The Shrike and the Shadows

Chantal Gadoury and A.M. Wright. Parliament House, $14.99 trade paper (348p) ISBN 978-0-57857-089-1

A brother and sister grapple with sinister forces in this dark story of temptation from Gadoury (Winterdream) and debut author Wright. Twins Hans and Greta have lived alone ever since their parents died, ostracized by their village for their perceived strangeness. When the Shrike, a witch who lives in the nearby woods and preys on the young men and boys of the village, sets her sights on Hans, the villagers turn on the twins, calling them cursed and forcing them to flee into the woods. Lost among the dark and tangled trees, Hans and Greta must depend on each other to survive even as the Shrike and her servants attempt to turn them against each other. Gadoury and Wright paint a portrait of a grim, hopeless world in which human cruelty is as much of a threat as supernatural forces. The setting is lush and evocative, but the narrative is often repetitive and overwrought, and the protagonists are too firmly rooted in their folktale archetypes to be fully fleshed-out characters. Fairy tale fans will enjoy the concept but long for more nuance. (Mar.)