Author: Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #1
Genre: Mystery/Thriller YA
Release date: January 8, 2013
Summary: Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.
Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?
Friends, SHADOWLANDS by Kate Brian is a book that I couldn’t put down. Even when I HAD to (stinkin’ work), I thought about it and how it made my heart race, and how it made me “WTF!!!!” out loud every other chapter, and how, even though I couldn’t figure out what was going on half the time, I was engrossed in Rory’s story and finding out the truth. Because honestly, maybe someone else might be able to puzzle out the ending of SHADOWLANDS, but I couldn’t. Not until the book was nearly over. And by then I was devouring it greedily, dying to know WTF WAS GOING ON IN JUNIPER LANDING.
Even though there’s something fishy afoot in Juniper Landing, and we understand this basically right away, the thing that drives Rory Miller, her father, and her sister, Darcy, there in the first place is CREEPY TO THE MAX. SHADOWLANDS starts with Rory being attacked by one of the teachers from her school, who is also a serial killer. She escapes, and winds up getting sent to Juniper Landing by the FBI to protect her and her family from this guy coming after them to finish the job. From there, Kate Brian basically takes us on an express train to BANANASVILLE. It is awesome. There’s one moment BARELY 100 pages in (it’s probably even less than that, to be honest. I was reading it on my kindle, so I have no idea) that will literally STEAL YOUR BREATH FOREVER.
Steven Nell is a badass MF, guys. He will give you the creepies. He will give you the crawlies. The first chapter or so, which details Steven’s attack on Rory and the immediate aftermath, are heart-pounding. In fact, not once while I was reading SHADOWLANDS did I feel at peace. Steven Nell is one thing. The fact that Juniper Landing is definitely odd from the start is another. That place will give you all kinds of unsettling feels. Because even in Juniper Landing, something is frightening Rory, and no one else really believes her when she tells them what she thinks it is. PLUS. Juniper Landing–likely thanks to its proximity to water–has this FOG, guys. Pea soup fog, and there’s more than one scene of Rory getting stuck in the fog at night, and I swear, you can feel her apprehension. Kate Brian does a really great job making Steven Nell a dastardly, crazy criminal. And she does an even better job with the atmosphere of SHADOWLANDS.
SHADOWLANDS messes with your head for sure, but there’s other things going, too. Rory and her family are dealing with life after the death of her mother a few years before. Her dad is angry, her sister is bitchy, and Rory just wants to crawl into a ball and be left alone. There’s this subplot of Rory hooking up with her sister’s ex-boyfriend that was kind of meh, but only because it really wasn’t what SHADOWLANDS was about, so it just felt a little unnecessary. But Rory remembers a time when her family got along much better than they do now, and it makes her interactions with them in SHADOWLANDS bittersweet. I didn’t think the characters in Kate Brian‘s book suffered from the fast-moving plot, though.
I liked Rory. She’s trying to turn over a new leaf in Juniper Landing, but she keeps getting distracted by very strange happenings in town. There’s a few kids that she meets when she arrives, and they are DEFINITELY friendly–in some cases, over-friendly–but WEIRD and they only get WEIRDER as things progress. Rory gets friendly with some of the kids, and seems to have a connection with one boy in particular, but the sexytimes are nonexistent in SHADOWLANDS. I won’t say this very often, friends, so I hope you understand the gravity of what I’m about to say: I didn’t miss the lack of kissing at all. There’s way too many other things going on to keep your brain and your heart occupied. SHADOWLANDS isn’t about Rory getting a boyfriend. It’s not like the possibility isn’t there for something to happen in the future, but still. I was so caught up in Rory and the creepy feels that I didn’t really notice. This book doesn’t lack for drama one bit.
SHADOWLANDS is a book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend, friends. It’s fast-paced, gripping, confusing in a really intriguing way, and has great atmosphere. Rory and her family have issues that give the characters some weight, and the sheer oddness of the behavior of some of the locals in Juniper Landing will make you scratch your head and get that “OMG I am SO CONFUSED! I LOVE IT!” feeling. (Am I the only one who deals with this?) As SHADOWLANDS came to its conclusion, and after it finished, it reminded me of a really popular TV show. I can’t tell you which show because if you are a fan like I am and know this show, I think it’s a pretty big spoiler. But Kate Brian keeps you on your toes, and has me intrigued for what’s coming next.