I received this book for free from Libro.fm, the publisher at the ALAN Workshop in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade
Narrator: Tamika Katon-Donegal
Length: 8 hours 51 minutes
on June 27, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Diversity & Multicultural, Young Adult Fiction / Family / Siblings, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / Supernatural
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Libro.fm, the publisher at the ALAN Workshop
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Boston Globe Best Books for Summer 2023
*Featuring an exclusive case only available on the first print run!
"From its glorious first line to the final page, The Shadow Sister heralds an exciting and exquisite new voice. Lily Meade has arrived!" —Angeline Boulley, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Firekeeper's Daughter
Sometimes people are lost from you, no matter how much you wish they weren't and before you can even begin to know how big of a hole they'll leave behind.
Sutton going missing is the worst thing to happen to Casey, to their family. She's trying to help find her sister, but Casey is furious. She knows Sutton is manipulative, meanwhile everyone paints a picture of her perfection. People don't look for missing Black girls--or half-Black girls--without believing there is an angel to be saved.
When Sutton reappears, Casey knows she should be relieved. Except Sutton isn't the same. She remembers nothing about while she was gone—or anything from her old life, including how she made Casey miserable. There's something unsettling about the way she wants to spend time with Casey and watch her goldfish swim for hours.
What happened to Sutton? The more Casey starts uncovering her sister's secrets, the more questions she has. Did she really know her sister? Why is no one talking about the other girls who have gone missing in their area? And what will it take to uncover the truth?
Perfect for fans of:
- Ace of Spades and House of Hollow
- Emotional suspense
- Speculative fiction, including Hoodoo
- Diverse books featuring strong female leads
- Sister stories with complex family dynamics
Looking for a mystery/thriller to start your spooky reads off for the fall? Check out The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade. A story about two sisters in a toxic sibling relationship when one of them disappears and then reappears in a seemingly altered state.
This was a solid debut that I began listening to on audiobook and then finished with the physical copy. I had gotten to the climax and was close to finding out what happened to Sutton (the sister that went missing) on the audiobook, when my kids got home, so I finished the book using the physical copy during my evening read. The audiobook was good, I liked how the narrator differentiated the voices of the sisters.
The Shadow Sister is a mystery with supernatural elements, including rootwork. It is structured in both present day and flashbacks. It has a strong focus on the bonds of family that includes past relationships like with their grandmother Ma Remy and their present relationships between their parents and themselves.
I found the relationship between Casey and Sutton to be the main focus and most interesting aspect of the story. Their toxic fights and the feelings that inspire the fights throughout the years are intriguing and revealing. Sutton’s return after she has been missing gives Casey pause, because she is sure that it is possible Sutton set up the disappearance. But she can’t get over how Sutton only seems to remember Casey and only feels safe with her despite their previous fighting.
I didn’t really have a favorite character as I was mainly engaged in how their sibling relationship and its nuances were revealed throughout the book. I was glad that Sutton had some POV chapters spread throughout to give added depth to the story of their relationship. Some of the antagonism from their relationship stems from how they feel their skin tones affect their relationships with their parents and the opportunities around them.
Colorism & Racism
The elements of colorism thread into the search for Sutton and how Sutton being light skinned with a white journalist mother might have gotten her search more attention and action. Considering that other Black girls in the area have gone missing as well, it leaves a question in the reader’s mind. But there is also a lackadaisical treatment of the family by the police during the search and the insensitive treatment of them again when Sutton is found.
I felt like the ending could’ve had a stronger punch with more time given to the ancestral connections to the rootwork. I thought that was a thread that could’ve really elevated the supernatural aspects of the story. But if you were reading this with teens, an interesting post-book activity would be to write a “What happened next?” chapter for Sutton.