“I felt a gloomy cloud settle over me as I checked for my shadow in the stainless steel refrigerator, just to make sure I was still there” (p. 2)
Oh, there goes my heart. The Shadow Girl by author Misty Mount is a novel that explores the inner depths of what it means to be truly invisible. Zylia Moss is a thirteen-year-old high school student and as the second-youngest child of six, it’s readily accepted that her family may actually forget her existence from time to time. Essentially, Zylia is fading away. Her emotional stability – her all-consuming loneliness – results in a supernatural-like disappearance, where she slowly and progressively loses herself to the (the name of the place). At its core, The Shadow Girl is a coming of age novel where the reader is immersed in Zylia’s journey to finally be who she is meant to be with a bit of family mystery and supernatural-like events along the way.
Although it is not expressly detailed in the overall narrative, Zylia would wake up every day dealing with anxiety and depression. Her panic attacks and the numbness that can come with depression was written so elegantly and with such respect, that I am still in awe. Misty Mount ensured that the struggles Zylia faced as a result of her mental illness, was done so in a way that Zylia herself had to fight for survival. Teen to Young Adult novels do quite enjoy romanticising mental illness, usually concluding with the main protagonist magically ‘healing’ because of ‘true love’ (i.e. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven, as but one example). However, The Shadow Girl focuses on friendship, self-discovery and making small goals to boost confidence and self-esteem. In this sense, Zylia was genuinely sweet and with such an innocence about her, that you as the reader, cannot help but absolutely love her and cheerlead her triumph.
It is an intricately delicate narrative because Zylia herself is wrapped with such innocence, but it is grounded in mystery and anxiety-inducing terror. The mystery element in this story is so subtly woven that you don’t realise you are on the edge of your seat until you are actually on the edge of your seat dying to know what Zylia’s grandmother is hiding in relation to Zylia’s fading away and how it relates to her great-aunt Angelina. The Shadow Girl had me quaking!
What I do have to emphasise is the fact that Misty Mount’s writing was exceptional. The first aspect I noted whilst reading was the fact that the cadence of the writing was poetic in itself, and graphic to the point that I could create a visual picture in my mind. The writing was detailed, descriptive, emotive and stunning. This is a book that I implore readers to engross themselves in this spectacular novel about finding your inner strength and conquering life, not just blindly surviving it. Thus, I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars because it was incredible. But, I wish it was longer! I wanted to read so much more about Zylia and about her family!
Until next time! Happy reading!
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NOTE: I recieved a free copy of The Shadow Girl from Misty Mount, in exchange for an honest review.