blo Teens Read and Write: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

by Anastasia Hopcus
pub: July 13, 2010/Egmont
Teen Fiction

His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her. 

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry. 

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all. 
But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

My Review

The premise of Shadow Hills is excellent and the details surrounding the plot were well researched. I loved the idea of how the special powers came about combined with the magical stuff going on. 

The characters were unique and interesting. In fact the secondary characters could sometimes be more interesting. I felt the teen voice was lost at times especially with Zach, the love interest, who came off overly mature for his years, and at times almost too sensitive to the point of being not-masculine. I liked Phe and for the most part she made smart decisions and reacted appropriately when all the weird and wacky started happening.

The writing could have been tighter. Our heroine's name is Persephone "but I go by Phe and that's not spelled F-E-E it's P-H-E." She had to explain this to every new character she met which got kind of old for me. And then there were things like Zach would rub the back of his neck and Phe would explain that she noticed that obviously Zach would rub the back of his neck when he was uncomfortable. I can get the "obvious" stuff without it being explained to me. 

Romance: I thought it had depth and while there was the "instant attraction" thing happening, they seemed like they were trying to take the time to get to know each other. Overall it was sweet. There was no sex happening but plenty of sexual attraction.

Since I wasn't familiar with the many music references it not only took me out of the story but disconnected me from Phe's character. I'm also not into the drug and alcohol use and that was definitely going on here. It wasn't over the top or a huge element but it stuck out because I didn't see how it moved the story along. I was much more engaged in the clever urban fantasy and who-dun-it mystery aspect of the plot.

Bottomline: I would have preferred tighter writing and less drug and alcohol stuff but Shadow Hills has a great original paranormal premise with a sweet romance (with super sensitive guy) and interesting secondary characters that all combine to lead you on a magical mystery tour. Recommended for older teens due to the drug and alcohol use.

Cover: Very cool. Love it! 

About the Author:

Anastasia Hopcus wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. During high school she wrote numerous short stories and started (but never finished) three screenplays, all as an alternative to doing actual school work. At the very wise age of twelve her career ambition was to drive a Mack truck, but when that didn't pan out, she tried acting, bartending, and being a receptionist in a dojo before finally returning to writing. Anastasia loves horror movies, Joss Whedon, obsessing over music, and British accents. She lives in Austin, Texas and Shadow Hills is her debut novel. 

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Blodeuedd said...

Does sounds good, well except for those drugs and alcohol things, I could due without that too

Golden Eagle said...

Drugs and alchohol can get a little rough at times . . . but the rest of the story looks like it would be a good read.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

It seems over all like a great read. I think alot of books have a few pits

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Great review! I'm reviewing this myself soon, so I skimmed over a couple parts, but I basically agree with everything you said (lol, hope my review doesn't end up sounding too much like yours). It is good, but the writing was sort of meh at some parts. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds awesome. I wonder why I haven't read this yet ? :)

YA Book Queen said...

Fantastic review! I definitely agree with everything you've said, especially the bit about how the writing could have been tightened up a bit. It gets a bit frustrating to have a character spell out everything for you, especially when it's better left to the reader to figure it out themselves.

Candace said...

I've been wanting to read this since I heard of it. The things you mentioned that annoyed you sound like things that will annoy me too. I don't like it when there's drug and alcohol use in YA, but it seems to be unavoidable as authors think that's what realistic. I guess it is though, which is sad.

Eleni said...

Amazing review! I'm reading this one soon so I'm really excited!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

thanks for the honest, in depth review! i've been curious about this one!

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