Cover Image: Stalking Shadows

Stalking Shadows

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Member Reviews

Stalking Shadows is a YA paranormal thriller perfect for the spooky season. It immediately gets 5 stars for the spook factor. 

In this book we have magic, spells, witches, wolves, shapeshifters and a small french village. I enjoyed every bit of it.

I did feel the blurb wasn't as good as it could have been and there were a few places in the book that needed more elaboration. I also noticed a couple of timelines not quite matching up. Which is why I took away a star.

This book is dark and there is a few trigger warnings for child illness and a bit of gore and morbidity. Probably other things, but those were the ones that stood out to me.

If you want a dark, gothic spooky tale. I would recommend this.
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A Beauty and the Beast retelling with sisterhood as the main focus. I enjoyed this book!!!

In the beginning, where Marie and her sister Ama work together to mark a new victim for Ama when she turned into a beast, I was hooked right away! They always mark the ones the villagers won't see twice so they won't get into trouble. But suddenly, children become victims. Ama swears she never hurts children, but Marie has her own suspicions and she is determined to cure Ama. Ama started changing after she worked at the manor. With a little trick saying that she can cure the Lord's little brother, Marie finally lives there and tried to solve the mystery.

I really hope there will be a twist at the end. That all the things Marie thought were wrong but everything happened as Marie expected. It would be better if there was a surprise.

As for the character, I like Marie. She is protective of her little sister and will do anything for her, even committing questionable acts during her stay at the manor.

I really like the writing and how the author creates a gothic atmosphere. Perfect for fall/spooky reading!

PS: pardon my grammar.....

Thanks to Cyla Panin (the author), NetGalley, and ABRAMS Kids for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you ABRAMS Kids and Amulet Books Publishing, TBR and Beyond Book Tours, Netgalley, and Cyla Panin for sending me an eARC to read and give an honest review.

"'I only want to help.'
'That's true of very few people in this world.'"

Content Warnings:
- Kidnapping TW
- Anxiety TW
- Light romance
- Child abuse TW
- Slight violence and gore
- Sick/dying child
- Death
- Alcoholism
- Mental health struggles

Stalking Shadows was an interesting tale - it was similar to a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a way. It was also very spooky and a great read to start off the fall season for me. As promised by the synopsis, it is gothic. In it, our main character and "protagonist" 17-year-old Marie makes and sells perfume to sell at her small French town's market. She wants to sell enough to make a dowry enough to wed off her sister, Ama, which would allow Marie to live in freedom. helping her sister manage her curse. Ama turns into a beast once every month and Marie helps mark her sister's kills using the perfume. Marie marks them to help control the damage of the killings - in a small town like theirs, anyone missing is noticeable.
However, when a young boy is found dead one morning, Marie acknowledges the fact that she might not be able to control the beast side of Ama forever. And if she can't control her, she must find a cure to make sure she doesn't kill anyone by accident. Marie knows the only place possibly with answers is the place where Ama was originally cursed, the home of Lord Sebastien LeClaire. But once she gets to the mansion, she discovers hidden secrets about the curse, Sebastien, and herself.

First things first, the worldbuilding was very unfinished. I had no concept of the realm and didn't even know it was set in France till they used French words. The setting wasn't well described and the only reason I could picture the setting was from how my imagination pictured it.

Secondly, the characters were plain. I hated Marie - I thought she was selfish, inconsiderate, and couldn't face hard truths. There was no development in any of the characters and I felt no connection to any of them. That's probably why it took me so long to finish - I couldn't bring myself to pick the book up and just read when I DID have the time. I also thought the love interest with Sebastien was obvious from the start to me.

Thirdly, the plot was predictable for the most part. I knew who was the child killer and the truth behind the Woods Witch. I didn't see Sebastien's mother's true death coming and who cursed Ama. The climax also felt super rushed and I wish it had taken longer than a couple of pages.

However, here is what Cyla Panin did well:
- The description of the scratches/claw marks on the bodies
- The woods were super spooky
- Unique retelling and writing style

I think this book was more of a "me" problem - I totally see why other readers enjoyed it, but it just didn't work for me. I wanted to enjoy this book so much more because the author is so kind and offered me an eARC. But I need to tell the truth.

Even though I disliked many parts of this book, it was a good read to kick off fall.
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When I first saw the tour info I was taken aback by the cover of the book and the fact that it was a gothic Beauty and The Beast Retelling.   I only have recently gotten into YA and not many books have truly excited me so much that I wouldn't go to bed to after I am really really tired and end up reading to 3am in the morning and Stalking Shadows  was one of them.  I can't believe that this Cyla's debut the writing is so beautiful  and the world building so magnificent it  gives the reader a chance to feel that they are part of the story.  There are so many twists and turns in this story at times I was like OMG.  You think you know the story of Beauty and The Beast  then think again as Cyla will surprise you like she did me.  Marie was an amazing character her strength and the need to protect her sister at any cost was remarkable she was no wallflower.  Then you had Sebastian at first I was unsure but he actually made a pretty good match for Marie and for Cyla to make her characters POC was genius.  Can we have more please as there still isn't enough in my view in YA fantasy.  But the character to pull at my heart strings was the little cherub Lucien I really wanted to take him home and look after him.  I am very grateful to TBR Tours & Beyond for giving me a slot and to the publishers for gifting me a copy.   For all these reasons and the fact that I could not read anything else for a day after finishing Stalking Shadows so I could savour my total enjoyment which does not happen that very often.  I am giving this 5 stars to infinity
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Stalking Shadows

Author: Cyla Panin

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: 1 same sex couple

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For...: young adult readers, fantasy, retelling

Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling

Publication Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 400

Recommended Age: 14+ (kidnapping TW, anxiety TW, romance, child abuse TW, slight violence and gore)

Explanation of CWs: Slight romance, gore, and violence. Anxiety is present through a lot of the story. Kidnapping is integral to the story. Child abuse is touched on.

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately—not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast.

Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama. And if she can’t control her, she’ll have to cure her. Marie knows the only place she’ll find the cure is in the mansion where Ama was cursed in the first place, home of Lord Sebastien LeClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away—secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.

Review: For the most part, I enjoyed this book. It had a well done story and I was immediately intrigued by it in the beginning. It had great world building as well.

However, I felt like the plot of the book differed from where the characters were going. The sisters are supposed to be super bonded but aren't really in the book? The book slowed down significantly after the first few chapters. And the character development suffered a lot from the slow book and the lack of connection between them and the reader.

Verdict: It was ok, but could be better.
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Book Review


Title: Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin


Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Fantasy


Rating: 4 Stars


There are a couple of things I want to mention before getting into my review. The first is that while Stalking Shadows has been marketed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it was more of a reimagining for me. I also felt that the Beauty and the Beast story has been overdone in recent years but Panin’s interpretation of the original tale was beautiful especially when it was coupled with a really creepy gothic atmosphere and I preferred this as it wasn’t a direct retelling like so many other novels, looking at you ACOTAR. It gave the original tale its well deserved creepy atmosphere and took a refreshing spin on Beauty and the Beast which I deeply appreciated as a reader. At heart this is definitely a come for the monster, stay for the atmosphere kind of book which really surprised me as it has been a while since a book gripped me this much from the atmosphere alone. 



The story revolves around a pair of sisters, Marie and Ama who have been making a living by selling perfumes thanks to Marie’s knowledge in herbalism, which was a unique skill sets that I haven’t seen for quite a while. Marie often uses the skills to sneak into an old mansion which Marie thinks is responsible for cursing her sister to turn into a beast every month. I really liked how the “Beast” of the story wasn’t the love interest but Marie’s sister as that provided a whole new take for me as there is already a strong emotional bond between the sisters that is being tested by the curse and Marie is desperate to break it. Meanwhile, people are dying in their village and Marie isn’t sure if it is Ama or another beast that exists in the shadows and watching her trying to figure it out while protecting Ama was amazing. The real highlight for me wasn’t the characters or the story but the gorgeous atmosphere that is consistent throughout the novel and it felt like a perfect surrounding for this gothic tale.


While there is some romance within the novel it wasn’t front and centre or overdone which made the book more enjoyable for me as a reader because I hate insta-love romances. Marie as a protagonist was interesting to follow as she is strong and caring yet flawed especially with her strong desire to protect her sister. I liked that Panin focusing on the family dynamic between the sisters as this made the story feel more authentic and we genuinely cared about them throughout. Marie’s relationships with plants was also beautiful and added a more whimsical, fairytale-esque element to the story which was something that delighted my inner child. I also have to comment on Panin’s writing which is one of the shining elements of this novel as it completely drew me into this beautiful and cruel world ridden with beasts. All the relationships in this book including the one with Sebastian were delightful and Panin’s refusal to shy away from the darker themes really helped this.

However, this book isn’t perfect as the final reveal felt really odd, the twist was predictable and the explanation felt a little disappointing after all the development Panin put into the characters. I am not 100% sure what I was hoping for but the twist was heavily foreshadowed throughout the novel which put a downer on the whole experience for me, personally, as a reader. Overall, Stalking Shadows was a rich and creepy gothic tale filled with the bonds of sisters, blood and the reality that sometimes you have to be cruel to kind but the ending feel a little flat for me but it was definitely worth the read and added something new to the genre of Beauty and the Beast retellings. Highly recommended!
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My mood has taken an absolute hit and I wasn't able to get into this one as much as I hoped. I loved that it was a bit of a reversal with the beauty and the beast retelling. We're so used to the MMC being the beast, but it's actually the FMC's sister that is the beast. However, Marie definitely plays her part as the beast even if she doesn't take the form as one, which was a super interesting take. 

It wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but I definitely want to give this book another try in the future.
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"Warning: This book contains violence, depictions of alcoholism, the death of a child and depictions of mental health struggles."

Stalking shadows is a gothic fantasy novel written by Cyla Panin. It reimagines the tale Beauty and the Beast and does a wonderful job of using myths, such as the Beast of Gèvaudan, to create a gothic atmosphere that many readers could fall in love with.

It is surprising, to say the least, that this was Cyla Panin’s debut novel. It was written so well that I could barely believe it. Some of the lines she wrote were even worthy of my favourite quotes list, and that’s saying a lot.
Whilst I have no doubt that gothic fantasy readers will fall in love with this novel, it was a little harder for me to get my head around it. Some of the concepts were a little strange and the gothic atmosphere wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed but the story did keep me on the edge of my seat and I loved how the author wrote the relationship dynamics throughout the novel. There were many aspects that I could appreciate and the writing style was definitely a good choice.

Another thing that I absolutely adored was the fact that the main character was not perfect by any means. Instead, she was extremely flawed and was sometimes hard to root for. She does many horrible things throughout the book and it is difficult for readers to overlook the actions she takes. Even though it is made quite clear that the lying, murder and the other horrific things she does are done out of love for her sister, they are not excused in any shape or form.

The novel does have underlying traits that have been inspired by Beauty and the Beast. However, I do not agree with it being marketed as a “B&B” retelling since it does much more than retell the classic tale and instead reimagines it.

If I had to criticize one thing in this book, it would have to be how the story ended. I felt like the ending was a little rushed and predictable and I wish that the resolution had been met with a little more resistance.
All in all, I found the book to be a fantastic read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy gothic fantasy novels.

“This review was done on a work of fiction, In no way does the reviewer condone any actions that may have taken place in the book.”
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Finally, a tale as old as time retold in a way that's actually something different, something fresh. Too bad I skimmed the last quarter of it.

This is a very loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Marie is fiercely protective of her younger sister Ama, which is kind of funny when you realize that Ama is actually the fierce one. Once a month, she transforms into a terrible beast, thirsty for a kill. Marie does her best to control her sister by marking a victim for her that no one in their provincial village will miss, but she starts to get suspicious of her sister and the curse that is slowly claiming her when new victims begin turning up, including children. Marie is determined to cure her sister, and the only way she knows how to do that is to get inside the lord's manor and figure out what happened, and who cursed her. 

This book started off so well. It was impossible to put down because the writing, the sisters, the hints of the bigger story all sucked you in. But I'm very sorry to say that every time there was a major shift, I found myself struggling more and more to get into it. I started drafting this review when I was halfway through the book and meant for it to be one paragraph of negative thoughts, but this book kind of went off the rails for me once we left the manor and shifted the story to the woods. 

Marie is an interesting character. As I said, she is incredibly protective of her younger sister. Growing up with an absent drunk of a father and a mother dead, there is nothing Marie won't do to keep Ama safe and is saving money for her sister's dowry. She's also surprising ruthless. There were a few times where I thought she over-stepped in her drive to manipulate the people around her to gather information about Ama's cure but I somehow still liked her. However, her character felt rather incomplete. Aside from protecting her sister, there is nothing else meaningful to her. She speaks about how she will find a husband for Ama and herself be a doting aunt, but I still don't know why that is so important to her. Why is she never thinking of a future for herself? 

I also struggled to jive with Marie's reasoning for going to the manor in the first place. She is very firm in what she thinks happened to her sister, who did it, and how, and not once does she ever consider there to be an alternative. It was quite jarring and left no room for twists or surprises. I kept hoping she would be proven wrong because of how adamant she was with little proof, and it would have been nice for her to have been humbled, considering what she's done in the manor. 

And drawing from what happened in the manor, I for one do not like young children as main characters. Sebastian's much younger brother Lucien holds a lot of page-time in the first half as he is Marie's charge, and I just ... I didn't care. You're sick and cute. Whatever, kid, just go away so things can happen. 

Honestly, this book stopped making sense after the halfway mark. Despite the writing being wonderfully written with fabulous atmosphere, the dialogue suddenly  felt childish or had nothing to do with what was going on. Scenes were shoved in for no reason other than to fulfill an indulgent trope. For example, there's a scene in a cave, which would have been fine if a certain character hadn't suddenly suggested that to keep warm they have to strip off all their clothes and cuddle. Says who?! That was the point where I started skimming. The last half felt so disconnected and I really hope it's because I read an advance copy. 

If you tell me this is  gothic, I expect spooky and I expect a romance. There wasn't either. I am disappointed. That is all I'll say, and I think that wraps up my thoughts. 

Overall this wasn't quite what I expected. It was a promising new retelling that was a fresh twist on a tale literally as old as time and written to death. However, I think I just wanted it to go differently than it did and am not satisfied.
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DNF @33%

This was such an intriguing synopsis and I was excited to get my hands on it. It started off pretty okay but as the story continued I felt myself losing focus quite easily. It didn’t feel like anything was happening and I didn’t learn enough about the characters to care about what happens to them.
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First up, I’d like to say that I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and kept me interested the whole time. It is a fantasy/ mystery with a nice underlying romance that doesn’t take over the plot. I particularly liked the eighteenth-century French Village setting and the descriptions and uses for different medicinal herbs throughout the book.

Plot
The story follows Marie as she tries to protect her sister from the townspeople, finding out her sister’s secret — that she is the beast that roams the forests at night. 
Mysterious deaths in the village lead to suspicion, and Marie becomes desperate to find a cure to her sister’s curse. This leads her to the home of Lord Sebastien LeClaire. Marie is sure the secret to curing her sister lies within the walls of the mansion. 

It is an interesting plot that kept me hooked most of the time. There are some slow bits in pacing, but overall a really fun plot to follow with lots of mystery. There were a few good plot twists around the end which I had been hinted at throughout the book and made for a satisfying ending. 

Setting
This was my favourite part. I loved the setting of the quaint French Village with suspicious villagers. It made me think of Belle’s little town from Beauty and the Beast, but quite a lot darker. I liked the strong inclusion of the seasons into the story; I think most of it was set in winter, and this really came through strongly. It had a real feeling of cold and darkness about it. I also mentioned before that I liked the descriptions of herb use; I liked the detail with this and the descriptions of actually making the teas, perfumes, and preparing plants. This was a real highlight for me, as it’s something I’m quite interested in.

Characters

The main character, Marie, was a strong protagonist with lots of drive. She was constantly moving to get shit done and find solutions for her problems. I’m not sure I really liked her as a person, but I liked that she was so motivated and cared for everyone around her that this made me want her to succeed. 
I liked the build up of the relationship with Sebastian. It didn’t take over the plot, but was a nice subplot to have going on and made me want to read more. 

Summary

Overall, a good book and easy to keep reading. I would recommend it to anyone who likes that Gothic French village setting and wolf shifter stories. The vibe is kind of dark fairytale/ gothic fantasy, so if you’re into that, it could be the story for you!
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What an atmospheric read!

From the moment I read the opening line of 𝑺𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒔, I knew I'm gonna love it! Here's the opening line:
❝Sometimes she smelled like blood. It stained her, worming into her pores and spreading out under her skin.❞
— Beauty and the Beast/Beast of Gevaudan inspired
— dark historical fantasy set in provincial France with gothic undertones
— lyrical writing style, vivid descriptions + cottage core vibes 🙌🏽
— compelling and flawed characters + sibling bond 💯
— perfume magic, monsters, murder mystery

Big thanks to Abrams Kids/Amulet Books and Books Forward for my copy. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
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Beauty and the Beast tends to be a fairytale that’s overdone, and frankly, one that is hard to twist and make interesting, but Cyla succeeds at making Stalking Shadows a fresh story all on its own. While there are many recent stories showing main characters who fall in love with “monsters”, it’s refreshing to see the tale reimagined to a sibling relationship instead. Stalking Shadows is rich with gothic aesthetic, dark magic, witchiness, and even cottage core vibes. It’s a fantastic addition to your fall TBR lineup and fits in perfectly with heavily atmospheric reads like Erin A. Craig’s Small Favors and Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone.

The story is set in the 1800s in a remote village separated from the rest of the world by a dark wood - one filled with horrors including a woods witch, wolves, and beasts known to terrorize villagers. Only… Maybe the horrors aren’t just in the woods and instead walk among the villagers. One of their fellow villagers, Ama, is destined to turn into a beast and take the life of one villager while in her beast form. Instead of leaving the death to chance, Ama’s sister, Marie, marks villagers with honeysuckle perfume, which Ama recognizes while turned.

The killings have rules meant to protect both Ama and Marie and avoid detection. All is going according to plan until a boy ends up dead and Marie must face the prospect that Ama is losing control. To find a cure, Marie must return to the house where Ama was cursed, home of Lord Sebastian LeClaire. But not all is what it seems and what happens when Marie connects with Sebastian and his brother Lucien?

Stalking Shadows has a cast of characters who are well developed and compelling. It’s easy to understand their motivation and the driving force behind their actions and while there is usually one character who is unlikeable - that is not the case here. Marie is determined and fiercely loyal to her sister, and while she is not perfect, Cyla does a good job of convincing readers to empathize with her regardless. Ama is the carefree younger sister who has an “everything will work out” attitude. Sebastian mirrors Marie in many ways and is a protector to his younger sibling, Lucien. Lucien is quite young but has a shining personality and is ultimately very sweet. Their housekeeper, Madam Écrue provides a dose of motherly love with a little bit of meddling. The relationships between characters are also very realistic and easy to understand.

The writing successfully brings the gothic setting off the page. The atmosphere is really what elevates this story and makes it hard to put down. Throughout the book, readers are enveloped in the world from Marie and Ama’s quaint cottage to the frozen woods full of dangers, to Sebastian’s deteriorating estate.

While this book is a wonderful debut, it may have benefited from some further editing when it comes to plot and pace. The final climaxed felt very rushed in comparison with the rest of the book and the conflict was easily resolved without much fuss. There were several reveals and twists, though they had been foreshadowed throughout the book and did not come as a surprise. Without spoilers, some of the actions of characters that happened prior to the book could have used some additional explanation and maybe more plausible reasonings. All things considered, while it may have needed further polishing, the shortcomings did not keep this from being an enjoyable book that keeps readers turning the page.

Finally, there are sensitivities to keep in mind while reading this story. Marie lives with anxiety and many times is not managing her anxiety well. The story also deals with the topic of terminal illness and parental loss - both of which happens on-page. Additionally, parental abuse is a reoccurring topic in Stalking Shadows as Marie and Ama’s father is a mostly absentee alcoholic. Finally, the targets of Ama’s killings are “drifters and grifters” of the village. While this does make sense from a practical standpoint of the deaths of people without permanent ties to the community will not draw the same amount of attention, some of the language used around this plot point could use more nuance. While most of these things were handled with nuance and appropriateness, proceed with care if they are sensitive topics for you.

Be sure to add this to your fall TBR to get in all the dark and gothic vibes!
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3.5 Stars

I have mixed feelings about Stalking Shadows. On the one hand, author Cyla Panin’s ambiance is pitch perfect. It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s got some great moments. On the other hand, it feels more plot than character driven, and the plot gets lost a bit along the way.

Stalking Shadows starts out as a tale about two sisters — Ama, who turns into a wolf-like creature once a month and eats people, and Marie who’s trying to undo the curse. But halfway through, Ama sort of disappears and it’s Marie and Sebastien’s relationship that takes center stage. It’s a weird juxtaposition that feels like Ama is more of a plot device than anything, making it feel like the author got lost somewhere along the way.

Like many gothic fairy tales, Stalking Shadows features some moral ambiguity. For example, Ama kills and eats people without remorse, while Marie brushes it off as killing bad people — aka vagrants, travelers, and criminals. The line they’re not willing to cross is killing children. But Marie doesn’t mind poisoning one if she saves her sister. Most of the characters seem to have lost their “moral compass,” which you’d think would add dimension, but it falls rather flat and leaves you feeling a bit blah about the final outcome.

While I didn’t love Stalking Shadows, I didn’t hate it either. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking for a darker, grittier fairy tale, it might be a good choice. I suggest checking this one out from the library prior to purchasing.
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This is a non spoiler review, because you as reader need to read this book. Also, I feel sometimes I have in the past gave away to much of the plot line. This has diminished the pleasure for would be readers. 

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin is a tantalizing eerie gothic tale. 
Eighteen century France, two sisters live in an isolated village. Marie and Ama make their living selling perfumes made by aromatic flowers and plants. Having lost their mother and their useless father has gone to drink. Shunned by local villagers for their strange ways, they guard a deadly howling secret. 
Incredible atmospheric world building, along with a gorgeous old world setting makes this YA Fantasy standout. Let’s not forget the true heart of the storyline is the bond and love the two sisters have for one another. 

A darkish twisted book, that made for the perfect escapism, I devoured in one day. Ominous and deliciously grim with moral grey characters through out its pages. Steeped in superstition, along with a slow burn romance, this is one book that will catapult you into dark forests, a crumbling manor house, along with a hint of witchcraft…. Exceptional! 

“ Sometimes She smells like blood. It stained her, worming into her pores and spreading out under her skin.

Look out For This Author,  She Is One To Follow ♡
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Thank you NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids for a digital ARC of Stalking Shadows.

This story is a gothic remix of both Beauty and The Beast and Little Red Riding Hood with a focus on sibling relationships. 

I love gothic fantasy and really wanted to enjoy this story but unfortunately, it just fell flat. It gave me the same vibes as the 2011 film “Red Riding Hood” starring Amanda Seyfried. While the premise is intriguing, the storytelling itself felt superficial. With a simple plot and poorly developed characters, I just wasn’t invested in the story. I especially was not invested in the romance as it felt like it came out of nowhere given that Sebastian was particularly underdeveloped. I do believe this is a debut novel and I applaud the author for the idea and certain elements throughout the story (i.e. anxiety rep) but sadly it did not live up to expectations.
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3.5, but one I don't mind rounding up to 4 stars. 

Historical fantasy is pretty much my favorite subgenre, so right away I knew I would like STALKING SHADOWS. Marie's sister Ama returns home after working at the Lord's estate, cursed to turn into a bloodthirsty wolf every full-moon. Marie works hard to ensure that Ama remains under control, but when young women and children begin to turn up dead, seemingly mauled by the beast Ama turns into, Marie realizes her sister's situation is very dire. Before Ama loses herself completely to the beast, Marie must find a way to break the curse by returning to the place she believes Ama was cursed: the duke's estate. But as Marie begins to feel fondly towards Sebastian and his brother, Lucien, she discovers that the answers are not as straightforward as she thought, and that a more sinister danger plagues the woods of her village than she could ever imagine. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it started off very strong, clearly depicting the high stakes for Marie and Ama. I really liked Marie as a protagonist and thought her character development and the challenges she encounters as she doggedly tries to protect and save her sister made her a very multi-dimensional character. I was living for the gothic and spooky atmosphere the author brings the reader into during 18th century France. Absolutely living for it. I also really liked the dynamic between Marie and Sebastian for most of the novel. It's a really cute slowburn romance. This all being said, the plot really ramps up towards the end, which has its pluses and minuses and much of which I won't go into for this review as they were spoilery, but I will say I kind of felt my comprehension and interest wane a little bit towards the end. Many of the twists, while not necessarily bad, just felt like they came out of nowhere with very little foreshadowing, and it kind of lost me. Overall, though, I enjoyed STALKING SHADOWS, a story about sisterhood and paranoia one faces when they are different than everyone else.
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So this was pitched to me as a gothic, beauty and the beast retelling with a feminist twist to it and honestly, it is so accurate.  I enjoyed this so much. The bond between Ama and Marie is so powerful, that Marie is willing to do anything for Ama, even if it means putting her own life at risk. The atmosphere in this is amazing and perfect for the fall. The writing is engaging and kept my attention, which I appreciate. The only thing was that the ending fell a bit flat. I kinda knew what the twist at the end was. But, it also left me wanting more, so in a way, the author did a good job in keeping me hooked.
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This YA gothic fantasy is a great way to start out spooky season. Marie is a strong female heroine doing whatever she can to help her sister. She knows there is a reason why she has suddenly turned dark. While searching for a book of spells that may have the answer she meets Sebastian and his little brother Lucien who is sick. Marie is also hoping that when she finds this book of spells it will also give her a recipe for sure Lucien. I loved this storyline line addition where she befriends these brothers and tries to help them. There were so many cool elements to this story. Gothic fantasy, herbalism, witches, scary woods, werewolves and poison.
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Marie wants nothing more than to cure her sister and live life as a spinster aunt. Unfortunately, curing her sister from turning into a beast becomes a lot harder when secrets in her small town start to come to light. Will she be able to cure her sister and keep Lord Sebastian from finding out her secret, or will she become the beasts next victim? Panin did an excellent job with the atmosphere and pacing of this book. Every creepy shadow, room, cave and walk in the forest felt real. However, I did find the relationships between the characters a little stilted and hard to believe at times. I loved the character growth we see from Marie, and the twists that came about because of other characters were fantastic, but Sebastian felt unrealistic as did Marie’s sister. I also had greater expectations for the supernatural elements in this story, especially with all the mystery surrounding legends of the beast of Gévaudan and was quite disappointed with magic present in the story. All in all 3.5 stars for great atmosphere and writing but characters that were wanting.
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