cover image Chasing Shadows

Chasing Shadows

Swati Avasthi, illus. by Craig Phillips. Knopf, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-375-86342-4

Avasthi (Split) delivers a superb novel about grief, friendship, and mental illness, mixing in graphic-novel elements and themes from Hindu mythology. When Holly’s twin brother, Corey, is murdered after a free-running session, Holly and her best friend Savitri (Corey’s girlfriend) are shattered. Savitri reconsiders her plans to leave Chicago to attend Princeton, while Holly, who was also wounded in the attack, has visions of a snake god named Kortha holding her brother hostage in the afterlife. The investigation into the murders is also wreaking havoc on Holly’s parents (especially her police officer father), and a subplot about the friendship between Savitri and Holly’s ex Josh adds depth to the story. Holly’s visions, as well as some real-world action, are told in striking illustrated sequences from Phillips, reflecting Holly’s diehard love of comics and her increasingly uncertain grip on reality. More significantly, Avasthi avoids any pretense of easy, happy answers or shortcuts, offering a painful and realistic vision of the aftershocks of a horrific moment of violence. Ages 14–up. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (Sept.)