10 July 2011

Review: Shadow Falls - Amy Kathleen Ryan

Shadow Falls by Amy Kathleen Ryan
published 2005
young adult
read an excerpt
bought my copy

15 year old Annie McGraw doesn't want to spend the summer at her grandfather's home in the Tetons. Because every stone there reminds her of her beloved brother Cody, who died in a climbing accident some months ago. But she has no choice because her mom thinks that it's just what she needs to go on with life.
Annie and her grandfather never had an easy relationship and with Cody gone things have changed for the worse. Both don't know how to talk to the other and how to deal with Cody's death. Even though Annie doesn't want her summer to be special and worthy, she soon relaizes that maybe it's just what she needs to learn how to handle the loss of Cody.

I bought "Shadow Falls" right after I finished reading "Vibes" by Amy Kathleen Ryan because I enjoyed the book so much and wanted to read more by the author. "Shadow Falls" is absolutely different from "Vibes" and still I enjoyed both a lot.

The main theme in this book is loss and grief. At times it was heart-breaking to read how Annie dealt with Cody's death. The author showed in a haunting way how difficult it can be to go on with life when an important member of your family died. I loved the contrast between what happened in the now to what happened in Annie's flashbacks. This way the past and present were interwoven and I could understand why Annie felt the way she did.
The relationship between Annie and her grandfather is another major part of the story. Cody's dead brought to light what was wrong between them and in the end gave them a second chance. I enjoyed that their relationship didn't change from one second to another, this fit to their personalities and to the overall pace of the book.

The description of the wilderness and especially the woods was beautiful and captivating. I could see every little detail of the nature in my mind and even felt surrounded by it at times. In general Amy Kathleen Ryan's powerful, haunting and vibrant writing style was one of my highlights. Every little detail in this story was important and the author didn't use any superfluous words or story elements.

The little parts of Native American mythology and belief, that were added to the story, fit perfectly to Annie, her feelings and the wilderness she stayed in. A grizzly is playing a major role in Annie's stay in the Tetons and I loved how this powerful & wild animal was used to support Annie recovery.

What I especially enjoyed about "Shadow Falls" is that in the story there were no easy solutions or fast changes in people or relationships. These things take time and that's a message the author delivered in a beautiful and impressive way.

At first I wasn't very happy with the cover, however after seeing it in reality and after reading the book I like it. It captures the mood of the book beautifully. 

final appraisal
"Shadow Falls" is an emotional and heart-wrenching book with a strong heroine that deals with the aftermath of a horrible loss. The description of the nature in this book is beautiful and the story fascinated me through it's haunting writing style. 
I would recommend this book to all readers who enjoy beautifully written stories with finesse and deep emotions.  


  1. I like the cover, but the story itself isn't one I would like to get lost in, it seems too slow. Maybe only the excerpt happened to be like that? I think I will try other books mentioned first, though.

  2. I actually really like the cover, beautiful colors! Also, I hadn't heard of this but the synopsis and your review have me very intrigued. Great review!

  3. @Allison: That's great.

    @xlacrimax: The pace of the book is one of the things I enjoyed. But then not all readers enjoy the same things.




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