REVIEW #82: Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1) by Kate Brian

Title: Shadowlands
Series: Shadowlands #1
Author: Kate Brian
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Pages: 336, Hardcover

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

WHAT. THE. HECK. Shadowlands was the perfect combination of creepy and suspenseful up until the moment the storyline suddenly derailed and then crashed and burned.. Seriously I don’t think I could be more disappointed in the progression of the story after what was such an amazing start. I feel like I jumped into some alternate reality and got the wrong ending to the book.

Rory Miller barely escapes death at the hands of a notorious serial killer, only for him to evade capture and continue to hunt for her. Placed in Witness Protection, her and her family are sent to the isolated and unsettling <>. The feeling of safety is only temporary because soon there are signs of him everywhere - his favorite tune, his cackling laugh, his jacket and messenger bag. Rory doesn’t know if she’s being paranoid or if he’s found her already. But other weird stuff is happening on the island that she also can’t make sense of, causing her to doubt herself.

This is where the book went wrong for me. The story would have been enough if it was just about the cat and mouse game the two of them were playing - him catching up to her, taunting her, preying on her fear. It was chilling but engrossing in and of itself. But there was a secondary theme that started building about half way through the book involving the mysterious island and its secrets. There was an odd dynamic among the locals and they all seemed to watch Rory intently, further unsettling her. Then visitors start disappearing, people her sister can’t seem to remember, and their possessions start to pop up in odd places and with the wrong people - a guitar strap here a hat there. It’s all very odd. But when she tries asking questions, the answers she gets, if any, don’t seem to tell the whole story.

And then the plots converge, some weird stuff happens which isn’t really explained, and then there is a big SURPRISE, which just left me gaping at the last page. I shuffle back and forth through the pages not knowing what else to do before finally accepted defeat and finishing with a big WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

But it’s not just the plot that caused my frustration. My frustration for Rory and her family grew the more and more I read. If a serial killer evaded the cops for 10 years, killed 14 other girls, and won’t stop until he’s finished you off - in my book that makes it ok to be “better safe than sorry”. Don’t chalk up all these weird occurrences to coincidence. Don’t brush everything off as paranoia. Do you want to end up dead? I don’t like when characters talk themselves out of being reasonable, especially in a life or death situation.

So even though I’ve ranted about how annoyed I am with the ending and how I feel like the author couldn’t settle on a plot she liked better and decided “hey I’ll just mash both together” I am genuinely curious about what happens next. It was one of those endings that totally messes with your mind but you need to know more, you need to make sense of it or you won’t be able to let it go. Maybe that was her evil plan all along, leave readers so discombobulated that they have to pick up the next book or they will forever be in a state of dumbfoundedness. If that’s the case, it worked you master manipulator.


OK will someone please explain to me that ending? Is anyone else upset/confused/feeling gipped because of it? I know all the locals are dead but is Rory and her family dead too? Is Mr. Nell dead? Is this one of those Sixth Sense endings where Rory had died a while ago and didn’t realize it? Or is it just the locals and some visitors? And did the visitors die of natural causes/was it their time? Or are the locals killing them? What are with these powers? Krista has some kind of memory erasing power I guess. But what it doesn’t work on Rory? Was it magic that incapacitated Mr. Nell when he was attacking Rory? WHAT AM I MISSING? MAKE THE CONFUSION STOP.



  1. I don't know if this made me want to read Shadowlands, or run screaming in the opposite direction! Haha I love the sounds of the first half, and even a creepy island sounds intriguing, but characters who are too willing to play along in the face of such a dangerous man would really bother me. Hmm...

  2. Ok, let's see if I can explain it xD


    Everyone in there is dead. EVERYONE. Think of it as a kind of purgatory. Rory died back when they were on their way to be relocated. Where she 'woke up' from the dream where Nell killed her and she killed him. The point of the island or whatever is for the dead people to work out their issues. That's why Rory and her sister start getting along better as well as with their dad. Once they work out their issues they dissapear, move on to whatever comes next. The locals are basically the people in charge of the island. Making sure everything is running like it should be. Rory is special (obviously, if not it wouldn't really be a series xD) In my understanding she is going to become a local. That's why she has those powers or w/e and why they don't work on her and why they were all interested in Rory. She is going to be the new addition to their team. I'm sure there will be some more surprises as the series go on in regards to what Rory is and it's supposed to do.

    Hope that helps! :)

    1. OMG THAT MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE. So when Olivia disappeared she actually moved on? Wait so then when Nell caught up to her, was that because he died somewhere too? I wish this was all made a little clearer at the end... or maybe it's just me? hah

    2. or wait (i'm still working through this) I forgot she killed Nell in that "dream" so that's why he was there. Oo that makes that scene so much creepier now! Gah I feel like I should rewrite my review based on this new understanding. THANKS FOR EXPLAINING IT TO ME :) :)

  3. I skipped the spoiler area, but I have to say that I'm intrigued by your review! It sounds like this was a messy book, but I tend to really enjoy messy books and so this one might actually be a book that I love! I'm glad that even though you had your issues with the story that you still want to read the next book! This was a awesome review!

  4. I didn't read the spoilers but your review has me very curious. I can't decide if it made me want to read the book even more or want to read it less. I don't like it when it feels like the other has another plot going on for no reason. On the other hand the story just sounds so creepy and good. Ahhh! Making decisions is hard. I have added to my TBR to try to get at the library some time. That way I can read the ending and then we can have a crazy discussion after. :)

    1. author* I really need to read my comments before I post them. :)


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