Published on July 5, 2016 by Skyscape
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic.
When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future.
But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows.
Rule #1 when reading sequels: don’t expect the same as before.
I broke this rule when, after finishing Girl on a Wire (which I absolutely loved), I determined that the sequel had to be just as good if not better. Sadly, what I came to realize is that Girl in the Shadows definitely doesn’t live up to the hype from the first book.
Overall, I would say this book is average at best. I’d compare it to a bag of chips in the cupboard. You grab a few but after so many, need a glass of water. I read this book in pieces, stopping to “refresh” myself between sessions. There wasn’t the same hook I had with Wire (which I read in one sitting). But this one I had no issues putting it down, having to at times because I was losing interest.
Moira the magician brought magic to Cirque American with her sleight-of-hand and daring escapes, perfect to keep visitors entertained between the acts of the main show. And of course she’s no ordinary magician — she really has magic, a dangerous power she can’t quite control.
We saw magic in Wire with Jules’s grandmother and the coin. Both make an appearance and remain as supporting characters much as the rest of the former cast do. Where the magic in the first book was slight and more of an illusion one wants to believe, it truly exists now in Shadows… but it’s never explained. Magic exists. Some people have it and they all belong to a single family (except Nan, so not sure how that fits into the whole scheme). Too much use can kill you. That’s about all you know. There don’t seem to be any substantial rules or limits outlined outside of mentions that it can’t be used to heal (but it can, kind of, so that’s not completely accurate). It worked when it wasn’t a major part of the story but as soon as magic took the forefront, it lost its mysticism and became prime for holes.
But the magic wasn’t the only issue. Moira has to have her man just as Jules did, though this isn’t another Romeo & Juliet. Instead, I found a teen romance filled with insta-love and an unusual attraction to each other existing solely on his charm and her willingness to go with it. Dez, the gentleman in question, is a typical bad boy with heart of gold deep down. Moira is the girl that lets him woo her into loving him with a little flirting here and there. A few weeks later and it’s love.
I dare to mention the main characters. Moira had next to no personality. She ran away from her father to become a magician and she cares about her friends (and Dez). Dez has an air about him that made me suspect from the start that he wasn’t all that he seemed and left little to the imagination later on. Even Raleigh, another introduced character and fellow magician, had a little more to him than the protagonists. I never felt like they were real people that I could believe in and root for.
But the book wasn’t all bad. I loved that the Wire cast came back and played a role in the story. I fell in love with them in the last book and though they weren’t the center of this story, the familiarity brought a smile to my face. Also, no love triangle despite the other cliches so thumbs up to that. Of the actual story, I enjoyed the direction of magicians instead of traditional circus acts. I missed the circus since Moira’s viewpoint was very focused on Dez and whoever else was in the room, far less on everything around her (which made it harder to visualize at times). But I also remember the circus from the previous book and, having just finished that, I wasn’t at a complete loss for the world created at Cirque American.
You definitely need to read Girl on a Wire prior to this book if you want any of the supporting characters to make sense (though it can probably read as a decent standalone if need be). I wish I’d enjoyed it more but will definitely continue to watch out for more from Gwenda Bond.