Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin
Published: September 14, 2021 by Amulet Books
Source: Hardcover, 400 pages
Summary: (from Goodreads)
A gothic YA fantasy debut about a young woman striving to break her sister’s curse and stop the killing in her small French town
Seventeen-year-old Marie mixes perfumes to sell on market day in her small eighteenth-century French town. She wants to make enough to save a dowry for her sister, Ama, in hopes of Ama marrying well and Marie living in the level of freedom afforded only to spinster aunts. But her perfumes are more than sweet scents in cheap, cut-glass bottles: A certain few are laced with death. Marie laces the perfume delicately–not with poison but with a hint of honeysuckle she’s trained her sister to respond to. Marie marks her victim, and Ama attacks. But she doesn’t attack as a girl. She kills as a beast.
Marking Ama’s victims controls the damage to keep suspicion at bay. But when a young boy turns up dead one morning, Marie is forced to acknowledge she might be losing control of Ama. And if she can’t control her, she’ll have to cure her. Marie knows the only place she’ll find the cure is in the mansion where Ama was cursed in the first place, home of Lord Sebastien LaClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away–secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.
Rating: 4/5 stars
**I received a physical ARC of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**
A YA gothic, feminist, fantasy Beauty and the Beast retelling? Sign me up! This book was so good. I was immediately drawn into the story.
This was full of everything I love in a retelling. Full of magic, a gorgeous atmosphere, gothic aesthetic, and great characters.
Marie was a fantastic main character. She was unbelievably strong, and quick-witted. I really enjoyed watching her growth throughout the book. I also really appreciated the sister bond she had with Ama, as I can totally relate.
The storytelling and the atmosphere of this book was so immersive. I felt like I was watching from the sidelines with this one. Panin is a great writer. I’m honestly shocked that this is her debut novel. I’ve not been in a huge fantasy mood lately, but this story reminded me why I love fantasy so much.
I loved all of the characters, and all of the twists the book took. I do wish there had been some more about Lucien in the end, but as a whole, I loved it all. There is a bit of romance, but it wasn’t overwhelming to the story- just a bit of a sweet add-in. The forefront storyline stays in place throughout, which I love.
The ending was good. It was a bit flatter than I wanted it to be, but still good! I expected something crazy with all of the build up, but I still think that the story flowed really well and ended exactly as it should have.
If you’re a fan of retellings with strong female leads, definitely pick this one up! It’s a perfect winter read to add to your TBR! I for sure will be reading anything Panin publishes in the future.
This one is out TODAY!! So make sure you go grab a copy wherever sells books! 🙂
Thanks so much to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!
Thanks for reading! 🙂