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The Year of Shadows

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  459 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Olivia wants a new life, and it might take ghosts to get it. A heartfelt, gently Gothic novel from Claire Legrand.

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother's left; her neglectful father, the maestro of a failing orchestra, has moved her and her grandmother into the city's dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Claire Legrand
Jan 31, 2013 Claire Legrand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
All right, so I'm rating my own book again, and as I do so, Olivia is standing behind me, looking over my shoulder, peeking out over her sketchpad.

"You're really gonna do that?" she asks. "Rate your own book?"

(At this point, Victoria, elsewhere in my brain, puffs up indignantly, but I shut her up before she can start ranting.)

"Well, I'm proud of this book," I explain to Olivia. "I think it's okay to say so."

Olivia shifts back and forth. She's very quiet. "It was a hard book to live through."

We s...more
Steph Sinclair
Middle Grade fiction and I don't usually get along, which is funny considering their covers are the cutest things EVER. I am one of those people easily swayed by pretty covers and I just can't help clicking that "To Read" button on Goodreads. What can I say? I have ZERO self-control. You should also know that I do not do Horror. Like, at all because I am a total scaredy cat who's afraid of her own shadow. I sleep with a teddy bear and everything. But anyway, for The Year of Shadows I knew I had...more
A delightful, yet dark MG novel; The Year of Shadows is dusted with ghosts, entertaining personalities, and an unexpected amount of grave topics which are handled with complete expertise, all through the delicate eyes of a child who is harboring a mountain of pain.

This book is about a young girl, Olivia, who has had to move into this battered concert hall where her father works due to the stupid Economy. Fostering anger towards both her father for bringing her to this dank place, and her mother...more
This was absolutely grand. If you don't know, I love the middle grade genre, perhaps more than I do the YA genre because it just has this magical feel to it. This was no exception. I fell in love with all the characters--humans and ghosts and I actually found myself close to tears at a point in the book. Yes, it's that brilliant.
Middle grade books always get to me. Why? Because childhood and innocence are sacred to me and when injustices are done to either of these two precious things, it's difficult to accept.

Claire Legrand's The Year of Shadows is not a walk in the park. It is not an action adventure that you can read on and off for a few giggles. This is a story of loss. Many losses. Olivia and her Nonnie and her maestro father have moved into the music hall because money is tight and they've had to sell their belong...more
Linda Cohen
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year. That's an understatement if there ever was one.

The Year of Shadows is the story of Olivia and her father, the maestro of a failing orchestra and the year after her mother leaves the family. Oh--and the ghosts! When The Maestro sells the family home and moves his elderly mother and Olivia into the backstage area of the music hall it turns out the place is haunted by ghosts. They're tied to the old crumbling hall, unable to move to the afterlife. The onl...more
Kat (Le Pauvre Cœur)

Update 7-30-13: Thank you, First Reads GR Giveaways and Simon and Schuster for my ARC of the book!

Olivia hates the music hall.
It's cold, dark, crumbling, and brings up memories that she'd rather forget.
And now she's living there.
After Olivia's mother left, her father (whom she refers to as simply 'the Maestro') makes an impulsive decision and sells their house, in the hopes they can save his dying orchestra.
Olivia is forced to live in a dank, depressing storage room with her aging grandmother...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
3.5 stars, rounded up for Igor being the awesomest

First up, the disclaimer: yes, I know Claire Legrand and she's awesome, but that did not influence my opinion of the book in any way. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Though I've had Claire's debut novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls for over a year now, I've not managed to work it into my schedule, so I'm glad I've finally gotten to try her writing. Also, I'm pleased to say that I like her writing. Hurrah! Claire Legrand has written a beautiful, oc...more
Morgan Renae
This was cute. And really sad. I'm disappointed, though. It wasn't what I thought it would be. It did have some spooky parts, mixed with ~ghostly fun~. But mostly it was about death, acceptance of family and friends, and love. Which was good, but not exactly what I was in the mood for.

What really made this book shine was the secondary characters. Frederick, Tillie, Jax, Mr. Worthington, Henry, Joan, Mr. and Mrs. Barsky, Nonnie, Igor, and the Maestro. I loved all of them, and the energy they brou...more
Ivonne Rovira
Oct 11, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone craving a great tale
In The Year of Shadows, Claire Legrand has produced a worthy follow-up to her excellent The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. The book traces embittered loner Olivia Stellatella’s seventh grade school year, a year in which she discovers ghosts and the meaning of family.

As the book opens in September, Olivia, her orchestra conductor father and Italian-immigrant grandmother have been reduced to living at the back of Maestro Otto Stellatella’s beloved Emerson Hall, a decrepit concert hall that’s h...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship

I'm not very familiar with Marilyn Monroe; I haven't seen many movie of hers nor listened to her songs. Yet, I love the way she talks. And so I'd like you to hallucinate this review in her voice and accent.

The Year of Shadows has a lot to give to those who ask for it.

Unfortunately, I'm not one of those.

The book works on a banal concept, but the execution is diverse and that's where the strength lies.

Olivia Stellatella's is the kid who's having to move into a concert hall, whose mother has ab...more
the golden witch.
This is a book that older MG/young YA desperately needs right now - a book that helps explain what Legrand calls "The Economy", and how it's affecting kids. "The Year of Shadows" is a book that is not only just a ghost story, but is also a very real story about kids in that late tween/early teen age range that is learning to deal in a new world that's let them down, a new reality that has reset everything they've learned thus far about their lives, with some ghosts and a metaphor about moving on...more
I should probably mention, first off, that I'm a conductor by trade. So this middle grades book, about a failing orchestra and the Maestro's daughter, Olivia, was meant for me. What I was not expecting was to have an emotional reaction to the story, but I did.

"I'm not sure he believed me. But I think he liked what I said anyway. I think it was nice to imagine. Sometimes that's how you get through things."

Olivia, her elderly grandmother, and her father have been forced to move into the old concer...more
Originally reviewed at

I... I'm sorry, I need a moment. I'm still working through all my crazy, flaily feelings over this book. If any of you have read The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girlsand were worried that Ms. Legrand might not be able to live up to her smash debut, worry no more! Though Shadowsisn't on the same level of freaky horror as Cavendishit excels in the same gothic, touching, heartfelt tone as its predecessor.

The star of the show is Olivia S...more
Carina Olsen
I've been dying to read this book for so long. First, because I adore Claire so much. She's just amazing. Second, because her other middle grade book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, is my most favorite middle grade book. She just writes so perfect. At first I got declined two times. But then today I got accepted for it after all, on Edelweiss. It gave me the happiest feeling. I had to start it right away. And once I started reading The Year of Shadows I could not stop until I had finishe...more
Liz (The Bookish Liz)
Katherine Paterson's "The Bridge to Terabithia" + Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" + Neil Gaiman = The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand. I'll get to this equation in a moment.

It's been quite a long time since I have read a children's book, or I guess a middle grade book that has made me stop and pause for a moment. The Percy Jackson series, although fun, didn't really deal with a lot of things like this book has.

For one, Olivia has to deal with a lot of things many children are facing....more
Charlotte (Gypsy Reviews)
Originally posted at Gypsy Reviews

I received an eARC from the publisher, thanks!

The Year of Shadows was such a satisfying and enjoyable read, it was endearing and had some very strong messages about family, letting go, forgiveness and friendship. It is an exemplary example why I love Middle Grade books and will always continue reading them, no matter that I’m way beyond the years for reading middle grade.

Olivia lives in the concert hall now because her father’s orchestra is losing money quick, h...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Butts

Either I'm more emotional than usual lately, or the latest trend in middle grade fiction is to rip readers' hearts out by weaving in as much loss and grief and sorrow as humanly possible. This is the third book in a row in which the young main character has lost a parent, and then narrowly avoids losing the remaining parent as well. And if that weren't enough, another major character has lost both parents; and our young heroine Olivia has to keep letting go and saying go...more
Olivia Stellatella’s life seems to be falling apart. Her mother left home, and her father, the Maestro, pays more attention to his struggling orchestra than to Olivia. In order to keep the orchestra afloat financially, the Maestro sells their house, forcing Olivia, her father, and grandmother to move into the back rooms of the decaying concert hall. However, Olivia and her family are not the only occupants; there are are four ghosts haunting the hall, and they need Olivia’s help.

This is a nice,...more
Theresa Milstein
This book was close to being a 5. Really creepy and some of Olivia's internal thoughts and the action plot came together beautifully. I felt her internal struggle mirror her external one.

Most of my gripes come from a writer's point of view. No mention of magic for over 30 pages, I think. A few characters aren't mentioned for long stretches. Even with all the main character is going through, sometimes she seems particularly mean and her relationships seemed one-sided. I wanted the grandmother to...more
This book was a lot deeper than I was expecting it to be. And I was practically sobbing by the end. After having read this author's first book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, I thought this would be more of the same, a little bit of spooky but with some wit to kind of lighten the mood at times. There was very little mood lightening here, but don't let that turn you away from this book. I feel like the word "beautiful" would kind of describe my thoughts come the end.

This book centers on O...more
Lori Cox
Olivia is an angry 12-year-old girl who is doing poorly in school and has no friends. Her mother left the family and her father’s finances have forced them to move into Emerson Hall where he is the maestro. Her beloved Nonie, a frail 80 year old, also moves with them. Olivia then meets four ghosts that beg her to help them move on in the World of Death, especially if Emerson Hall is to be demolished, leaving the ghosts forever unmoored.

Thought this was a wonderful, unique story dealing with some...more
Victoria Scott
Another powerhouse success from Legrand! My favorite characters were Henry and Igor, though of course I loved Olivia, too! That cat, Igor, cracked me up throughout the whole book, especially when he called Olivia "pet." Ha! Can't wait for Legrand's YA book!
The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
Simon & Schuster, 2013
410 pages
Recommended for grades 4-7

This year I've read around 100 middle grade texts published in 2013. With so many under my belt it is with tons of excitement that I am just now finding another favorite of the year! Last year I was introduced to Legrand through her creepy The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. That story was for older readers, and certainly not for everyone, though I did enjoy it quite a bit.

The Year of the...more
I loved this middle grade book. Apart from the beautiful cover and illustrations, the plot was also well crafted. I don't usually read books that talk about ghosts but I couldn't resist this one.
Olivia has lost her mother and is angry with the Maestro (her dad) because she believes it was his fault that her mother is gone. When Olivia, the Maestro and Nonnie, her grandmother move into the old music hall with the hopes of reviving the orchestra, they all get more than they bargained for, especially Olivia.

There are ghosts that Olivia befriends and shades that seem to want to do nothing but harm. As Olivia and her human friends, Henry and Joan begin to sort things out disaster strikes sev...more
So satisfying to me, I loved the music hall, the musicians, the ghostly world. It seemed kind of long for it's audience (Young YA), but I dug it!
A Canadian Girl
Through the use of music and a loosely defined world of Limbo, Claire Legrand’s The Year of Shadows explores the themes of loss, friendship, and loneliness in a manner suitable for MG readers. Consider for example the protagonist: Olivia. During a time of recession, many tweens will be able to relate to Olivia’s situation of having their parents be stressed about their finances. Although I found The Year of Shadows to be a solid read, I couldn’t help repeatedly comparing it to Legrand’s other no...more
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year. Her mother abandoned ship, leaving Olivia with her aging grandmother and her father, dubbed the Maestro, whose life is consumed with the failing orchestra he conducts. On the edge of financial ruin, the Maestro moves the trio into the crumbling orchestra hall, where Olivia encounters some friendly--and not so friendly--ghosts in need of help.

I absolutely loved this book, and although it had nothing to do with A Wrinkle in Time, I drew some similarities...more
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Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn't stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a writer, Ms. Legrand can often be found typing with purpose at her keyboard, losing herself in the stacks at her local library, or embarking upon spontaneous adventures to lands unknown. Her first novel is THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, a New York Public Library Best Book...more
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“It's a strange feeling, when you hear a good piece of music. It starts out kind of shaky, this hot, heavy knot in your chest. At first it's tiny, like a spot of light in a dark room, but then it builds, pouring through you. And the next thing you know, everything from your forehead down to your fingers and toes is on fire. You feel like the hot, heavy knot in your chest is turning into a bubble. It's full of everything good in the world, and if you don't do something--if you don't run or dance or shout to everyone in the world about this music you've just heard--it'll explode.” 10 likes
“Have you ever watched people when they don't know you're watching them? Like in a movie theater or a concert. When people get caught up in watching something, their faces change. The lines on their faces get softer, because whatever they're watching has made them forget how they think they're supposed to be looking. Instead, they just ARE — just sitting there, listening and watching and being real.” 4 likes
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