SHADOW by Jenny Moss (Scholastic 2010) is proof that I should never judge a book by its cover (sorry, Jenny). I know Jenny; she lives down the road a piece from me. We are insomniacs who tweet at odd hours in the early darkness. We are even meeting for lunch next week. I had this book on the shelf and somehow managed to overlook it for a while (again, apologies to Jenny). I took it along with me this morning when I headed to get my car serviced. They told me it would take about 3-4 hours and were surprised that I said I would wait. I had a book and knew it would be fairly quiet in the waiting room at 7 am. It was. I opened the book and immediately sank deeply into the life of Shadow whose sole purpose in life is to guard Queen Audrey. A prophecy has declared that Audrey will die before her 16th birthday. That birthday is now just days away and tensions are running higher than normal. That means more abuse by the Queen and by her ladies in waiting for Shadow. And then the unthinkable happens. The Queen dies. Now, the real adventure begins. <559>
By the time I had joined Shadow and Sir Kenway on their arduous and dangerous journey, the waiting room had filled (seemed many of us put off things until the true end of the year). However, I easily tuned out the TV and the conversations in favor of the story being related to me in SHADOW. The story is part fairy tale (with plenty of archetypes and motifs) but to me is more reminiscent of FIRE and GRACELING than retellings such as ELLA ENCHANTED. The book would also tie nicely to RADIANT DARKNESS a reimagining of the Persephone story. And now that I look at the cover post-reading, it works for me. However, I am reminded that we all do sometimes judge books by covers even if that in unfair. It also reminds me of the importance of providing readers a personal introduction to the story with booktalks and read alouds and trailers and such.