Larry Kollar's Reviews > Jumping At Shadows

Jumping At Shadows by Helen A. Howell
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Aug 04, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, ya
Read from July 16 to 20, 2012

I'm glad to say I had the opportunity to beta-read Jumping at Shadows last year. It was a fun read then, and it has only improved since. It made me think of a Hallmark Special, and I could almost hear the accents of the English girls as I read, except that Hallmark Specials don't often feature parallel worlds and magic. And there's some real grit in this story, don't let my comparison make you think it's all happy-sappy.

Belle and Rosy are charming girls, on the edge of adolescence, not yet interested in boys. Until they stumble across the missing pieces to Belle's family heirloom, their main concern in life is dodging the mean girl, Shelly. Their independence, I think, is what really makes them stand out. When they discover a way to travel to the world where Belle's shadows come from, they don't bother telling their parents — they seize the opportunity and run with it.

When the story really got rolling, I kept thinking about Clarke's Law — "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" — because I was never quite sure which it was. For example, a "wishing stone" would provide you the item you desired, but by taking it from somewhere (or someone) else. Maybe that's where the dryer socks go? It had reciprocal properties, allowing you to wish something gone, and that's an important part of the story. If it was truly magic, it was a rigidly logical kind of magic, one that makes a lot more sense than most magic "systems" in fiction. The ambiguity works in the story's favor, at least for me. One could argue that Jumping at Shadows is fantasy or soft sci-fi, and I think it works for fans of either genre.

The character development in this was so good, I never really gave much thought to a young girl bearding the power-mad wizard in his own den. The assets that Belle gathers along the way were truly made for her, and she has no problem using them to help her friends.

The author categorized it as a "children's book," but it's a good one for all ages. Check it out!
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