At first glance, Maggie seems to be an ordinary teenage girl: she loves animals, hates algebra, and thinks there’s something wrong with her new stepfather, Val. But it’s not just Val’s funny Oldworld accent or terrible taste in shirts that worries Maggie. It’s the fact that he’s always surrounded by shadows that don’t make sense; they’re the wrong shapes, and there are far too many of them to be natural. To make matters worse, Maggie has started to notice some troubling things about her hometown in Newworld — unexplained phenomena that almost look like breaks in reality. Eventually Maggie confronts Val and learns some unpleasant truths about Newworld and its way of dealing with unnatural occurrences.
I’ve been a huge fan of Robin McKinley’s since the first time I read The Hero and the Crown in elementary school, so I was ecstatic to learn that she’d written a new book, even if it wasn’t the long-awaited continuation of Pegasus. However, I’m sorry to say that I was very disappointed in this book. It does contain many of the classic McKinley touches, such as a wonderful canine companion, a no-nonsense heroine with plenty of gumption, and (less happily) a magical system that is never fully explained. But overall, I felt let down by this story; there were a lot of very interesting threads running throughout the novel, but they were never gathered together in the end. I’m not sure whether a sequel is planned or not, but some further resolution of the story definitely seems necessary. I can’t help but wonder if McKinley was attempting to write her version of the dyptopian YA novel that is so popular nowadays. All I can say is, I vastly prefer her older books!