BOOK REVIEW: The Shadow Girl (John Larkin, Woolshed Press)

This young-adult novel really packs an emotional punch. The Shadow Girl is the dramatic story of a girl trying to escape her horrendous family situation: she lives through years of homelessness, trying to keep herself safe and find schools to attend, all the while outrunning an uncle who wants to kill her. But despite the drama, this is both a realistic and insightful book, and the lessons she learns and the people who help her along the way really make the reader think. The structure is also compelling: the story is told through the eyes of the protagonist, but is also revealed in her meetings with an author who is taking down her story for publication. John Larkin is a talented writer who knows exactly how to manipulate his audience and leave them on the edge of their seat. This young adult novel draws on elements of thrillers and mysteries, but in essence, it is something more: an evocation of life lived at rock bottom and the resilience it takes to clamber back into the light. It can be quite violent and graphic at times, so I would recommend this book to mature readers aged 15 and up.

Kate Sunners is a bookseller at Riverbend Books. This review first appeared in the July issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine. Sign up for the free fortnightly Bookseller+Publisher Newsletter here.