Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Review of Shadow Hills

Author: Anastasia Hopcus
Publisher: EgmontUSA (July 13, 2010)
Pages: 400
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ARC for review

Description (as taken from GoodReads):

His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

I have been interested in reading Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus since November 2009 when I heard about it from Kami Garcia. I quickly added it to the list of the books I intended to read for The Story Siren's (Kristi) 2010 Debut Author Challenge And then in late December 2009, I won an ARC contest from Anastasia Hopcus which included the first chapter of Shadow Hills. As I came to the end of the first chapter, I felt like a cruel joke was being played on me. What?! No more to read?! Consequently, I became giddy when I actually obtained an advance reader's copy of Shadow Hills.

In an effort to write a spoiler-free review, I am going to focus on how Shadow Hills lives up to my "this is a good book" criteria. My criteria looks at readability, characters, twists on the paranormal theme, and ease in recommending it.

There were two things that quickly jumped out at me while I was reading Shadow Hills. An author should write in a way that engages the reader from the first chapter. I am pretty adamant about this. There are too many good books out there to waste time struggling through the first 100 pages of a book waiting for something to happen or for it to become interesting. Just as with reading the first chapter of the book, when I was able to finally sit down and read Hopcus's novel, I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to find out more about Persephone “Phe” Archer and the world of Shadow Hills. Part of what really gripped me was how Hopcus is able to reveal her characters' secrets without confusing me or irritating the heck out of me.

As for Anastasia Hopcus's characters, may I just say one word - Zach. Yes, hot boy with powers. I truly think I have a new fictional love interest. Despite Zach's hotness factor, what really is brilliant on Hopcus's part is that both Phe and Zach are equally matched. I am not going to reveal too much because I would then be spoiling it for readers, but let's just say that Phe is no wimpy teenage girl. I will also say I loved all of the secondary characters. There are some characters that you should really dislike and some that you should really like. Plus, I liked Phe's friends despite their very realistic flaws.

My third criteria is a difficult one for many books. There seems to be only so many twists or variations on the same theme. Shadow Hills was refreshing in that I didn't feel like I was reading the same vampire/werewolf/faery/angel book that populates the shelves of bookstores in over abundance. The history of Zach, his family and the townies and the evolution of their gifts and abilities was fascinating. Phe's ability is different than Zach's but presents with its own unique history. Though the connection between the two was not fully developed, I truly sensed that this was intentional and that in the next book we will gain a deep understanding of the connection between the two.

Can I recommend Shadow Hills? That would be a definite YES! Enough said!

After reading the book, I did have one thing I struggled with but you will probably laugh when you hear it. Let me just say, I grew up in New England. I went to college in New Hampshire and I lived in Massachusetts. And I have lived in Los Angeles. October is cold in Massachusetts. After all these years living in Southern California, when I go home, I freeze. Phe is from Los Angeles. When I think about her clothes, I just kept wanting to run after her with a jacket or a heavy duty sweatshirt yelling "You forgot something." See I told you that you would laugh?!

Shadow Hills is a great debut novel, and I am already pining for book 2. Really, Hopcus has to stop doing this to me. I am totally looking forward to seeing how Phe's abilities grow and how she learns more about her connection to Shadow Hills. And well, yeah, I want more Zach but that goes without saying.

Contest: Here's your chance to win a copy of and ARC of Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus -You will get one point for each item below (for every point you get an additional entry). The more items that you complete the more chances to win.

1. Leave a comment about why you are interested in winning the book
2. Tweet about this contest - please include @alybee930 in the tweet so I can keep track of the tweets
3. Comment it about the contest on your Facebook Page (leave the link in the comments section)

This contest is open to International Readers as well as those living in the United States.

Contest will end on Sunday, June 27, 2010.


  1. I think Phe has a lot to say and the fact that her sister died so mysteriously has me intrigued im also interested about the epidemic there seems a lot of great concepts in this book that im looking forward to and Phe sounds like a great character that i would really enjoy reading about.plus Zach seems like a hottie! :)

    Facebooked here

    tweeted here

    Thanks for making it international!! :D

  2. Oh I have been wanting this. WHy because A Cover, B) heard really good things c) Phe looks like someone who i want to read.

    tweeted https://twitter.com/Tegan19/status/16884710345

    I facebooked it by privet pro http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=824450607

  3. I Have Been DYING To Read This Book Ever Since I Heard ABout It Last Year. This Book Just Sounds Amazing And A Must Read. I So Want To be Entered Into This Giveaway Please.

    I Tweeted About This Contest On Twitter (@skyla11377).

    I Commented About The Contest On My Facebook Page (Raquel vega-Grieder).


  4. +1 Comment: Ever since the first time I heard about this book months ago, I have been dying to get my hands on a copy and spend a day just devouring it! The plot sounds so intriguing! Phe (LOVE THAT NAME) sounds like an interesting character, someone I would like to "get to know"!

    +1 Tweeted: http://twitter.com/AmysSimpleLove/status/16885032860

    +1 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/profile.php?id=632095762&v=wall&story_fbid=104150592968443&ref=mf

    Total entries = 3


  5. Awesome review.

    I swear, everyone keeps talking about how good Shadow Hills is, it makes me want to read it super bad! Like right now, lol. I love paranormal goodness, so I'm sure I'll love Shadow Hills.

    Tweeted: http://twitter.com/Lena1xoxo/status/16885213456

    *crosses fingers*


  6. I want to read this book because it sounds bleeping Fantastic!! I get what you mean when you say "it draws you in from the first page" because the same happend to me when I read the excerpt.

    please enter me into the contest.

    tweeted https://twitter.com/Personafied/status/16885754060



  7. I've been hearing a lot of good things about this book for such a long time, I can't wait to get my hands on it. I love YA paranormal and this has been om my wishlist since I heard about it.

    +1 Comment
    +1 FB: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=661586209&v=wall&story_fbid=107710689278882&ref=mf
    +1 Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/16889240572


  8. Thanks to everyone who entered so far. You will really love the book when you finally get your hands on it. Good luck with the contest.

  9. I have had that on my to-read list for months. I even found out that the first chapter was available on audiobook so I went right out and downloaded it. I love it. July 13th cant come soon enough!

    +1 Comment
    +1 Tweet: http://twitter.com/acsimps

  10. I know it doesn't count as a point but I also posted the contest on my blog!

  11. I've heard a lot about the book and it's been on the wishlist for a while. I love the idea of a hot boy with powers *grin*. Zach is one of my favourite names too.

    Thank you for the contest and making it international :)

    I've commented, tweeted and facebooked (www.facebook.com/lynseynewton)


  12. +1 comment
    iam interested because i heard many good things about it it makes me more excited! :D thanks for the giveaway. I like parnormal books with dark secrets :d

  13. Lynsey & Blueicegal - Glad that I can open this up internationally.

    Thanks Anne for posting on your blog!

    Everyone thanks for entering and getting the word out. Good luck!

  14. Oooh, I'm interested in reading this book because the summary sounds amazing ! That and because I felt a shock go down my spine when reading this, that has to count for something ! The idea of enrolling to find out secrets is really cool and daring, so I would love to see where that goes !

    Tweeted: http://twitter.com/DreamBelieve3/status/16983632149

    Thanks for the giveaway !


  15. Ok this might sound weird but I actually want to read the book because the main character's name is Persephone - my FAVORITE Greek Goddess. Also it doens't hurt that it sounds like an amazing story!

  16. The plot sounds fantastic ... and I definitely want to find out more about Zach :D I've had Shadow Hills on my wishlist for AGES, and would love a chance to read it for The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge.

    Tweet Tweet: http://twitter.com/izibellz/status/17037200611

  17. I've been wanting this book so bad. It looks like an amazing read.

  18. Great review! I'm sooo looking forward to reading Shadow Hills, I've heard so many great things about it. =)

    I tweeted: http://twitter.com/cynthial11/status/16948440978

  19. I've been hearing about this one for months. I'm interested in seeing what all the talk is about!

  20. Great contest!

    I want to read Shadow Hills because I think it sounds amazing! Also I've only read great reviews of it so far! It seems to have evrything a great book should and that's why I can't wait to read it:)

    I tweeted: http://twitter.com/AnyaKapllani/status/17115191550


  21. I've been trying to win this book all over the places ! with all the good reviews about this book, Makes me want it more :)

    +1 Tweeted : http://twitter.com/becunique/status/17135992484

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  22. I'd love to read this book!

    +1 Tweeted:

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  23. I'd love to win this one because I've been following Anastasia on Twitter for a while, and this book sounds so great!


  24. I'd like to win this because I have read the book on a ARC Tour and ABSOLUTELY ADORED IT, and wish to read it again.

    Tweeted about it: http://twitter.com/littleneko/statuses/17194671522

    Face book it http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=830875631
    (Face book name: Maire Kl)

    Awesome contest thanks for hosting


  25. Like you, I had the chance to read the first chapter and was completely hooked! I can't wait to read the whole thing! (Plus Anastasia Hopcus is a sweetie with awesome hair ^_^)

    +1 Comment
    +1 Tweet

    Shalena @ Writer Quirk

  26. I am so so excited about this book! I'd love to get a copy early.


  27. I'd love to win the book because, after reading the reviews, I'm really wanting to read it!

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/Mmarymonkey/status/17197097312

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mmaryalice?v=wall&story_fbid=137708389579289&ref=mf


  28. his book is on my to-read list! It seems really interesting, that's why 8D

    Tweeted about it here: http://twitter.com/anneroyce/status/17226085351

    And unfortunately, I don't have an FB account T.T

    royce_a13 @ yahoo.com

  29. For those of you who didn't see the tweet, Miss Tammy and her teens (at the library) won the ARC of SHADOW Hills. I'll be doing a short post soon, but wanted to send something out now. Thanks for entering and there will be more contests coming in the future.