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The Shadow Year

by Jeffrey Ford

Library Journal Strange things are happening in a small Long Island community-a child disappears, a large, white car no one recognizes is seen creeping around, there's a smell of pipe smoke at odd times, and a Peeping Tom is scaring women at night. When the narrator, an introspective sixth-grade boy who likes detective stories, and his older brother decide to track the culprit, they set up a model of their town in the basement only to discover that their younger sister is predicting future events by moving the figures around. Edgar Award-winning author Ford (Girl in the Glass) perfectly captures life in small-town America in 1960, when the harsh realities of urban life-murder, child abduction, alcoholism, latchkey children-began affecting families like the narrator's. Spooky and hypnotic, this thoroughly enjoyable page-turner may remind some readers of Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, which evokes a similar nostalgic feel of the time period along with a corresponding mystery element to resolve. Recommended for all public libraries.-Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list In his latest novel, the author of The Girl in the Glass (2005) and The Empire of Ice Cream (2007), among other genre-bending tales, takes us back in time to the 1960s, when strange doings are afoot in a small suburban community. A schoolboy has vanished; a stranger has appeared; a prowler (possibly a pervert) is lurking about; and a librarian is losing her grip on reality. Keeping track of it all are several young chums, including the sixth-grade narrator; his older brother, Jim; and their sister, Mary, who may somehow be affecting what's happening as she rearranges figures on the toy model of the community in her basement. Imagine a young-reader amateur-sleuth novel written by someone like Kafka, and you'll have a pretty good idea of this one: surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue. Give this one to readers who appreciate the blending of literary fiction, fantasy, and mystery--Pitt, David Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In Edgar-winner Ford's disappointing sixth novel, the narrator-a nameless boy growing up on suburban Long Island in the mid-1960s-spends what remains of his summer vacation roaming the neighborhood with his older brother, Jim. At home, money is tight, forcing their father to work three jobs while their mother drinks herself to sleep every night. A prowler may be loose on the streets, and the narrator and Jim see a menacing man in a white car lurking near their house and school. When a local boy disappears soon after school starts, the narrator and Jim are sure "Mr. White" is responsible. They turn to their younger sister, Mary, for help, after she mysteriously moves figurines in the boys' model town, reflecting events before they've occurred. The stage is set for suspense, yet Ford (The Girl in the Glass) deflates it at every opportunity with his unresolved subplots. Instead of building to a thrilling climax, the story peters out and loose ends are either forgotten or tied up too neatly. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus From Edgar-winner Ford (for The Girl in the Glass, 2005), a tale about three kids, a small town and the banality of evil. The narrator is a sixth grader who has an older brother and a younger sister. They have an absentee father who works three jobs and an alcoholic mother. Were it not for the fact that they love each other—though none of them ever speak the word—it would be a family hell-bent on dysfunction. Still, for the most part, they've been able to consider themselves ordinary, until the night of the scream, the "shrill scream of a woman, so loud it tore the night open wide." And so begins the Shadow Year, a year dark with every possibility of violence and loss. Enter the prowler, a tall, thin man with expressionless, skeletal features, white hair, dressed, at every sighting, in a long white coat. People vanish. Shy, awkward little Charlie Edison is the first, and other disappearances follow. There are harrowing confrontations, brushes with death, a brief alliance with a ghostly presence. In their basement the children have constructed a clay and cardboard replica of their local community, its neighborhoods and citizenry, complete with a representation of their elusive nemesis. It's a town in flux, changing inexplicably and mysteriously. The conviction grows among them that by studying their model, they might be able to chart the terrifying progress of the prowler as he goes about the business of selecting targets. And then one day there's every reason to believe it's their own house he's scoping. Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too. For those of you—and you know who you are—who think the indispensable element for good genre fiction is good writing, this is not to be missed. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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