cover image Shadows


Robin McKinley. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-16579-5

McKinley (Pegasus) introduces a modern civilization much like our own, but in which Oldworld (roughly Europe) is magical, while Newworld (approximately North America) has embraced science and genetically engineered its citizens to be free of magic. Both worlds, however, are subject to cobeys (cohesion breaks)—interdimensional storms that can produce earthquakelike destruction, or worse. Maggie, a typical 17-year-old, loves animals, origami, and boys, but is upset because her widowed mother has remarried a man named Val, an Oldworlder (“I’ve seen orangutans that wore clothes better,” Maggie gripes). Val was supposedly stripped of magic before immigrating to Newworld, so why can Maggie see a terrifying thicket of shadows around him? And why are they trying to communicate with her? McKinley’s characters and dialogue make this novel a joy: Maggie is a brash yet vulnerable protagonist, and her family, Val, and two possible boyfriends (both of whom may be magical) are well developed. The magic system isn’t all that fleshed out, but the culture of Newworld is a fascinating amalgam of the everyday and the strange. All in all, a delightful read. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)