Hi everyone and welcome to my tour stop for Stalking Shadows by Cyla Panin hosted through TBR and Beyond Tours. I’m excited to share my full, spoiler-free review of the novel for my stop on the tour.
You can check out the full schedule for the tour here.
About the BookStalking Shadows by Cyla Panin
Published by Amulet Books on September 14, 2021
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.
About the Author
Cyla Panin is an MG, YA and Adult Author who prefers to look at the world through a dusting of magic.
After spending most of her childhood wanting to escape into the wonderful worlds her favourite authors created, she’s now using her own words to craft magical places. When not writing, Cyla can be found playing dinosaurs with her two young boys, watching swashbuckling and/or period TV shows with her husband, and, of course, reading.
Her YA debut, STALKING SHADOWS will be out with Amulet, Abrams Fall 2021. She is represented by Chloe Seager of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV, and Film Agency.
This Beauty and the Beast retelling is Panin’s debut but it felt like anything but. I have not enjoyed a retelling of the classic tale since I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and whether that’s because I haven’t really read retellings of the story since then or I just don’t remember others, Panin’s debut is a gorgeously gothic, eerily atmospheric tale that does justice to the original and breaths new life into a classic.
Our main character is Marie, who spends her days worrying about her younger sister Ama, forever cursed to roam the world as one who turns into a beast. At the novel’s opening, we learn that Marie uses magic perfumes so that Ama knows who it’s okay to kill once she has transformed. It’s a complicated situation and Marie takes protecting her sister from the villagers to extreme means.
When children in the village start getting married by some kind of animal- or so the gossips say- Marie decides to journey to the manor of the family where Ama’s curse began. With her sleuthing comes an intrigueing cast of side characters including the love interest Sebastian and his little brother Lucien, who is dying of consumption.
As Marie attempts to heal Lucien with her knowledge of herbs and figure out why and how Ama was cursed, she uncovers dark secrets about the powerful family which rules over the village and must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the ones she loves.
There is extensive exploration into what it means to protect our family and the consequences that come with those decisions. in tandem with the evenly paced plot is a contemplation of loss, grief, and how we grapple with the different ways those who are gone are remembered. It’s also a beautiful tale about siblings and the power of love between them.
Overall, I gave Panin’s debut 4.5 ? and only docked it .5? because I don’t think it will quite make it to one of my favorite reads of the year. However, if you are looking for a solid fairytale retelling, craving a book about werewolves, or need more herbal magic in your life, you need to pick up Stalking Shadows.
What About You?
Have you read Stalking Shadows? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!