Shadows by Robin McKinley
How much do I love the lack of a begowned, beheaded, teen girl? A lot. That said, I was sure this was supposed to be the bayou, with the suggestion of water at the bottom of the picture, which is not the setting.
A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine
Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.
Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.
In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.
As far as I know, none is planned. She’s still got Pegasus 2 to write, *cough, cough*. I kid, sort of. 😉
Indeed. All of McKinley’s work is worth reading, if you like well-developed fantasies. And who doesn’t?
I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that Maggie has magic powers she didn’t previously know about. It’s a classic narrative for a reason.
As you know if you’ve read more than one of McKinley’s works, she loves animals, especially dogs, and the animals often prove useful around magic–as sensors, amplifiers, buffers, etc. If you’ve been craving fantasy and animals, it’s usually a sure bet to pick up one of her books.
Like many before her, McKinley explores the science vs. magic debate, and although it’s clear that she and her heroes prefer magic, she (mostly) manages to avoid demonizing science completely.
In many ways Shadows reminded me of McKinley’s earlier Sunshine: the tone and heroine’s thought processes were similar. Now, I love Sunshine so very much, that this alone is high praise. But, regretfully, I must admit that I didn’t love Shadows quite as much as its predecessor. I still like it very, very much, but it’s not my favorite McKinley.