Shadowing by S. Jae-Jones
Published February 6, 2018 by Wednesday Books, an imprint of Macmillan
I haven't assigned this book any stars because I think it’s a necessary piece of writing for the author- it feels like more like an emotional exorcism than a story, leaving little in the way of plot. It doesn't make it a less worthy tale for the right reader. Jae-Jones includes a personal note in the beginning of the book that includes details about her own experience with mania and how it's reflected in Lisel's story, and having this in mind was what urged me to continue the book when I wanted to set it aside.
I spent the first two thirds of the book waiting for the shoe to drop or to better understand what Josef was feeling. Liesel knows, and the audience knows thanks to the last book, that he’s a changeling, but he doesn’t know so I kept waiting to see what he thought was happening but even as the reveal came I couldn’t make sense of the path there.
It feels like a matter of comparison. While Shadowsong is similarly lyrical in style, Wintersong introduced readers to a new world and explained most of the rules as it went along. It was a lush story full of clear wanting, and even when I didn’t entirely understand how the Goblin King was circumnavigating the demands of a supernatural bargain for Liesl, I at least understood the motivation and assumed it would be a standalone book.
This book is less clear. The hurried and scattered thoughts, the confusing poetic nature of the book does an excellent job of putting readers in the mindset of someone who struggles with depression or mania, and if you’re willing to engage in that story, then you can potentially embrace the discomfort that comes with it.
Maybe because of my own history of depression and anxiety, I’m unable to sink into this style, to embrace someone else’s episodes when I’m grateful for every day I go without my own.
I had a hard time investing in this story the same way I did with the first, waiting for too many pages to feel like the story was moving forward. The point seemed to be “how do we deliver a happy ending when we upset the rules of order in the first book?” And you get there, but it takes 95% of this convoluted tale to get there. This entire book felt like a slog. I desperately wish I found this book more compelling, more interesting, because I loved the first one so much.
Overall, it wasn't the kind of story I usually seek out, making it a bad match for this particular reader, more than an inherently bad story.
I was able to read an early copy of this book thanks to the publisher in partnership with NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.