THE LIBRARY OF SHADOWS, by Rachel Moore, HarperTeen, Sept. 5, 2023, Hardcover, $19.99 (young adult)
A teen finds herself mixed up with boarding school ghosts looking to be set free in The library of Shadows, by Rachel Moore.
Radcliffe Prep. The third most haunted school in the country, where a student disappearance isn’t uncommon and no one dares stay in the library after dark. And Este Logano enrolls with the hopes of finding her dead father.
Not literally, of course. She doesn’t believe in ghosts. Going to her dad’s school just seems like her best hope at figuring out who he was.
But then Este meets Mateo, who is maybe — probably — definitely — a real ghost. And an annoying one at that.
When Mateo frames Este for the theft of a rare book from the library’s secret spire and then vanishes, Este will have to track him down or risk being expelled and leaving Radcliffe early just like her father did.
Except following her father’s footsteps might be more dangerous than Este ever anticipated. As she investigates the library with its secret passageways, hidden tunnels, and haunted halls, she learns that the student disappearances aren’t just myth. And if she isn’t careful, she’ll be next. —Synopsis provided by HarperTeen
The Library of Shadows is being billed as a spooky rom-com, and while there is some humor throughout, I wouldn’t exactly call it a comedy. The spooky romance stuff, though, is there.
The book is sort of hit-and-miss. Este is attending a prestigious prep school, but there’s almost no “school” in the book. It feels like the school is more of a prop or means to set up the story than anything else. Almost everything takes place in the library, leaving the book feeling very insular.
At the center of the story is Este, a homeschooled kid who, since her dad’s death, has never stayed in one place very long. She’s not used to making friends or attachments, so her connection to Mateo is unsettling. Also unsettling — Mateo’s a ghost. So are his friends. Este isn’t particularly gifted when it comes to school, and her academic standing isn’t great, but she doesn’t really care. Or, at least, she does when she gets into trouble and then promptly forgets. Her obsession with helping Mateo grows until that’s all she seemingly thinks about.
Este’s growth as a character is slow, and the ghosts feel rather one-note. This is a lost opportunity on the author’s part that could have made the story sing.
Overall, there was enough to the story to keep me reading, but probably not to return. I suggest The Library of Shadows as a library read first to see if it’s one you want to purchase.
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