Book Review: Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond

by - 4:32:00 AM

Title: Girl in the Shadows
Author: Gwenda Bond
Pages: 414
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: 05 July 2016

From Goodreads: "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."

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for review!

Girl in the Shadows is the second book set in the world of the Cirque American and follows Moira Mitchell as she tries to become a magician, despite her father's wishes. It's a magical story from start to finish and definitely got me interested in checking out the first book, Girl on a Wire, which focuses on a character seen throughout this book. Before I move on, I'd like to point out that while this is technically the second book in the series, I feel as if you can read this as a standalone!

Moira Mitchell is the daughter of a famous magician and has grown up in Vegas, so magic is pretty much her life. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician, but her father is dead set against it and refuses to see anything she wants to perform for him. When an invitation to join the Cirque American falls into her hands, she jumps at the chance and runs off to join the circus. At her audition, things don't go as planned when her stage magic becomes real magic and she doesn't know how to control it.

I think in the entire book, Moira was not my favorite character. While I was reading, I didn't really connect with her at all. I admired her for going after her dreams and not letting anyone stop her, but I just didn't feel like I liked her all that much, sadly. My favorite character was actually Dita! I absolutely adored reading about her trying to figure out who she was and changing the way she dressed so that she would feel more like herself. Her journey to happiness and self discovery was by far the best part of this book for me and I really hope that the author writes a book dedicated to Dita! I would love to learn more about her and watch her grow more as a person and as a performer.

Despite me not really liking Moira all that much, I feel like the writing helped me want to follow her story more. Gwenda Bond is definitely very good at writing a story that will draw you in and absolutely mesmerize you. I really liked the magic aspect of the book, even the illusions that weren't actual magic (despite Moira using some actual magic in them) were very cool to read. I liked learning little tricks that she did to make everything look real when only some of the trick was real. The writing was fantastical and descriptive and really helped draw me in to the world of the Cirque American, and I really appreciated how the author really took the time to make me as a reader feel like I was in Moira's world.

At 414 pages, Girl in the Shadows is officially the longest book I have read this year. Unfortunately, I feel as though this book may have been too long. It took me longer to get through than most of the books I've read recently, not because it was a bad book, but possibly because there were several different things going on at a time. We had Moira trying to become a magician, Moira and Dez, Moira dealing with her father, Moira and the magical coin, Moira and several other things that would be spoilers to talk about. It really felt long and drawn out and made it pretty difficult to just read through. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the book, just that I wish it was a bit shorter!

By the end of the book, I was certainly happy with how things wrapped up nice and neat. There were no loose ends or plot twists or cliffhangers, so that was a major plus for me, personally. Moira's story ended on a happy note, and I was happy for her happy ending, for lack of better phrasing. If you're looking for a fantastical story about magic and the circus, I would recommend picking up Girl in the Shadows if you have a bit of time to spare to read it. I would also suggest picking up Girl on a Wire if you're interested in learning a bit of backstory and some more about some characters that pop up in Girl in the Shadows. 

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