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Stalking Shadows

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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 LeClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away—secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.


First published September 14, 2021

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About the author

Cyla Panin

2 books60 followers
Cyla Panin is an MG and YA writer 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 fantasy debut, STALKING SHADOWS is a gothic, feminist fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. To protect her sister, Marie laces perfumes with honeysuckle to mark victims for Ama to hunt when she transforms into a beast at night. But when a child in their town is killed, Marie is forced to acknowledge that she might be losing control of Ama—and must instead find a cure for this curse. It will be published by Amulet/Abrams in fall 2021.

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5 stars
82 (23%)
4 stars
109 (31%)
3 stars
112 (32%)
2 stars
33 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 131 reviews
Profile Image for Cyla Panin.
Author 2 books60 followers
March 20, 2021
Hi Everyone,

I'm going to be stepping away from Goodreads now that STALKING SHADOWS arcs are available, but I wanted to thank all my readers for going on this journey with Marie. As most authors say, this book is close to my heart. Being a published author has been my dream for a long time, but this book also means so much to me because I got to incorporate some elements of myself I don't often share with people. I hope the mental health rep rings true for some, and I hope those who have experienced childhood trauma in particular find strength in Marie and Ama's story. Ultimately, I'm so glad I get to share this with you all, and I hope you love spending time in the world of STALKING SHADOWS.


Profile Image for Lyndall Clipstone.
Author 3 books552 followers
August 28, 2020
STALKING SHADOWS has everything I love in a story: a fierce heroine, a gorgeously spooky atmosphere, and a perfectly Gothic aesthetic. With perfume magic, snowy forests, a brooding lord, and a girl who becomes a beast, this is a retelling the way retellings should be done - fresh and vivid, comparable to Angela Carter's work.
Profile Image for Julie - One Book More.
935 reviews161 followers
September 18, 2021
Stalking Shadows follows Marie as she tries to find a cure for the curse that plagues her younger sister Ama and turns her into a beast every month. Often left on their own by their alcoholic father, Marie and Ama make their living selling perfumes to the local villagers. Marie uses her knowledge of herbs and medicines to work at the mansion where she believes her sister was cursed. There Marie hopes to find the cure for Ama. With ever-increasing threats lurking and her sister’s life at stake, Marie learns that things aren’t always what they seem, and she must look into her own haunted past to learn how to save her sister.

I’m loving the abundance of YA Gothic literature lately, and Stalking Shadows is no exception. The Gothic elements – the isolated village, the old and desolate mansion, the dark and brooding male love interest, the spooky woods that surround the village, the plot shrouded in mystery, and the fantasy/paranormal elements – add so much to the story. The tone also has a sense of foreboding, as does the atmosphere, and it makes for a gripping read. It immediately immerses you into this ominous and entrancing world filled with secrets, lies, betrayal, curses, and more.

Marie is an interesting and dynamically developed character. A flawed woman, Marie does some unconscionable things that are hard to swallow, and she isn’t always the most likeable of people. She lies and manipulates others for her own purposes, and she doesn’t always think things through. However, she is also fiercely loyal to her sister, which is what fuels her throughout the story. Marie is strong, smart, and determined, and shows an incredible amount of courage as she searches for some way to help her sister. She is also often selfless, putting her own needs and desires aside to help those she loves. She is such a well-layered protagonist, and I enjoyed her character arc.

Marie isn’t the only morally grey character in the novel. In fact, almost all of the characters show signs of being morally grey, which highlights the fact that no one is completely good or completely evil. Marie does bad things to help her sister. Sebastien acts out of a sense of duty, responsibility, or love. Ama is just trying to survive. Other characters also reinforce the idea that everybody has shades of grey when it comes to life, morality, and ethics, and the story as a whole makes you think about questions like:

What would you do to protect the ones you love?
How do you decide what is personally right and what is wrong?
What do you do when your decisions/morals conflict with society’s?
Is it ever ok to lie and manipulate?

Another strong message in the story is shown through the fickleness of the townspeople. It’s a great commentary on society and how willing people are to change their beliefs when it suits their needs. This could also be a message about how people are willing to change and how beliefs evolve as knowledge grows, which is probably the case for some of the townspeople. But, for the most part, it seems as if people in this small village care less about change and acceptance and more about themselves.

Now, I’m a big fan of romance, and there is a wonderful, slow-building and burning love story between Marie and Sebastien. Though they come from completely different worlds, they have a lot in common. They are both outsiders in different ways, and they both know the sting of suspicion and distrust. Both are parentless but have strong bonds with their siblings, both are burdened with responsibility and have people depending on them, and both have been left in the dark for most of their lives. I like how their connection slowly builds over the course of the story, and though their relationship is built on lies and secrets, I so rooted for them. They have great chemistry, and they seem to really care for each other.

Ultimately, this is a story about sisterhood, survival, and finding one’s place in an unforgiving and intolerant world. A fantastic debut novel by Cyla Panin, Stalking Shadows is a unique and fresh Beauty and the Beast reimagining with immersive and layered world-building, strong messages, compelling characters, and several unexpected twists and turns. It’s gory and mysterious and suspenseful, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m so thankful to TBR and Beyond Tours and Cyla Panin for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, and I can’t wait to read more by this talented author!
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
578 reviews127 followers
September 16, 2021
Finally, a tale as old as time retold in a way that's actually something different, something fresh. Too bad I skimmed the last quarter of it.

Full review at A Book Shrew

This is a very loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Marie is fiercely protective of her younger sister Ama, which is kind of funny when you realize that Ama is actually the fierce one. Once a month, she transforms into a terrible beast, thirsty for a kill. Marie does her best to control her sister by marking a victim for her that no one in their provincial village will miss, but she starts to get suspicious of her sister and the curse that is slowly claiming her when new victims begin turning up, including children. Marie is determined to cure her sister, and the only way she knows how to do that is to get inside the lord's manor and figure out what happened, and who cursed her.

This book started off so well. It was impossible to put down because the writing, the sisters, the hints of the bigger story all sucked you in. But I'm very sorry to say that every time there was a major shift, I found myself struggling more and more to get into it. I started drafting this review when I was halfway through the book and meant for it to be one paragraph of negative thoughts, but this book kind of went off the rails for me once we left the manor and shifted the story to the woods.

Marie is an interesting character. As I said, she is incredibly protective of her younger sister. Growing up with an absent drunk of a father and a mother dead, there is nothing Marie won't do to keep Ama safe and is saving money for her sister's dowry. She's also surprising ruthless. There were a few times where I thought she over-stepped in her drive to manipulate the people around her to gather information about Ama's cure but I somehow still liked her. However, her character felt rather incomplete. Aside from protecting her sister, there is nothing else meaningful to her. She speaks about how she will find a husband for Ama and herself be a doting aunt, but I still don't know why that is so important to her. Why is she never thinking of a future for herself?

I also struggled to jive with Marie's reasoning for going to the manor in the first place. She is very firm in what she thinks happened to her sister, who did it, and how, and not once does she ever consider there to be an alternative. It was quite jarring and left no room for twists or surprises. I kept hoping she would be proven wrong because of how adamant she was with little proof, and it would have been nice for her to have been humbled, considering what she's done in the manor.

And drawing from what happened in the manor, I for one do not like young children as main characters. Sebastian's much younger brother Lucien holds a lot of page-time in the first half as he is Marie's charge, and I just ... I didn't care. You're sick and cute. Whatever, kid, just go away so things can happen.

Honestly, this book stopped making sense after the halfway mark. Despite the writing being wonderfully written with fabulous atmosphere, the dialogue suddenly felt childish or had nothing to do with what was going on. Scenes were shoved in for no reason other than to fulfill an indulgent trope. For example, there's a scene in a cave, which would have been fine if a certain character hadn't suddenly suggested that to keep warm they have to strip off all their clothes and cuddle. Says who?! That was the point where I started skimming. The last half felt so disconnected and I really hope it's because I read an advance copy.

If you tell me this is gothic, I expect spooky and I expect a romance. There wasn't either. I am disappointed. That is all I'll say, and I think that wraps up my thoughts.

Overall this wasn't quite what I expected. It was a promising new retelling that was a fresh twist on a tale literally as old as time and written to death. However, I think I just wanted it to go differently than it did and am not satisfied.
Profile Image for Anj✨.
176 reviews27 followers
September 14, 2021
Happy #BookBirthday to 𝑺𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒔 by @cylapanin 🎉🖤🐺 what an atmospheric read! Thanks so much @booksforward for my review copy 🥰

From the moment I read the opening line of 𝑺𝒕𝒂𝒍𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒔, I knew I'm gonna love it! Here's the opening line:
❝Sometimes she smelled like blood. It stained her, worming into her pores and spreading out under her skin.❞
— Beauty and the Beast/Beast of Gevaudan inspired
— dark historical fantasy set in provincial France with gothic undertones
— lyrical writing style, vivid descriptions + cottage core vibes 🙌🏽
— compelling and flawed characters + sibling bond 💯
— perfume magic, monsters, murder mystery
Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
457 reviews379 followers
October 16, 2021
It was alright. Didn't grip me, didn't trick me, didn't make me gasp out.

It was just... Okay.

But come on, Sebastian fell to his knees about ten times. Does he need kneepads or something-

P.S: Fell to his knees because he sobs uncontrollably sometimes.
Profile Image for Em Jay.
186 reviews42 followers
June 7, 2021
Come for the monsters, stay for the ~atmosphere~

Cyla Panin has (very loosely) retold the Beauty & the Beast tale with a delicious gothic spin, as protagonist Marie tries to keep her sister Ama (who transforms into a beast every month) under control within their increasingly suspicious rural town. It's such a dark, tense premise, and oh ... I loved it so much!

Panin's writing absolutely sings. I felt completely enveloped in this beautiful, cruel world, from the beast-ridden woods to the decaying finery of Sebastian's (aka ~Sad Lord Love Interest~) manor house. Books about sisterhood will always be special to me, and Panin also does an incredible job of creating a dynamic between Marie and Ama that felt inarguably REAL, even when they were dealing with supernatural problems. All the relationships in this book were *chef's kiss* actually, and I think the cherry on the top was how Panin refused to shy away from darker themes. Marie is pretty cutthroat in her pursuit of a cure for Ama, sometimes literally. She lies, she manipulates, and she does it all with love in her heart. Even when it's difficult to support her decisions, I could always understand - and that kept me 1000% emotionally invested the whole way through.

Granted, this is not a perfect book. (Perfect books are overrated anyway). The final reveal felt a bit ... odd, I guess, with a predictable 'twist' and an explanation that was ... fine, but lackluster? I'm not certain what I was hoping for, but since the twist is very heavily foreshadowed, I suppose I was hoping for something else to happen/be revealed to take my breath away, and it just ... didn't. Not a bad ending, by any means. Just flat.

But! But! But! Atmospheric witchery! Creaky old houses! Angsty lords! Deep, dark, lovely woods! Snow and blood and beauty! Sisterhood, with all its sharp sharp teeth! Do I really need to say more!

Profile Image for Tarra Lyn | TLCBookNook.
42 reviews20 followers
February 28, 2022
Stalking Shadows is a beautiful, gothic debut novel by Cyla Panin. Marketed as a dark, gothic twisted Beauty and the Beast retelling does not do it justice. It was so much more than that. The prose was lyrical, moving and oh so twisty; the descriptions so lush that I could smell the beautiful scents of the perfumes, feel the cold, dark, and late-autumn atmosphere.

Marie and Ama are the sisters of the plot. Ama is a young woman who is mysteriously cursed to turn into a beast once a month with the full moon. Marie, her older sister, makes perfumes to mark/scent the targets for Ama’s beast to kill. I absolutely loved the morally grey tone of both these sisters. Marie When it becomes apparent that Ama’s beast is taking more and more of her, Marie decides it’s time to find a cure instead of just controlling the beast, so she finds her way into the Lord’s mansion where her sister worked as a servant the year before and is sure she was cursed in the mansion.

I loved Marie and Ama’s sisterly bond and the brotherly bond between Lord Sebastien and his younger brother, Lucien. I greatly enjoyed the scenes between Marie and Sebastien, the budding relationship that wasn’t too sudden for the book. I loved how the author keeps you guessing on who is killing the children of the small village. Some surprises were done so well and the story was exciting to the end.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. It was a beautiful story and although not quite a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it definitely can stand on its own. I cannot wait to read more by Cylan Panin and I hope that she continues with the gothic vibes in her novels.
Profile Image for Bianca Rose (Belladonnabooks).
636 reviews55 followers
June 29, 2021
I was enchanted from the moment I picked this up and now officially want to go live in the 1800s in a little cottage sitting by a cosy hearth all day.

Stalking Shadows had EVERYTHING I wanted in a book. and I am obsessed.

✔️Gothic undertones.
✔️Fairytale reimagining (Beauty and the Beast).
✔️Magic woods.
✔️1800s setting.
✔️Cottage core vibes.
✔️Female werewolves.
✔️Poisonous plants.

Now do I have your attention?

Stalking Shadows has been marketed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling but I would be more inclined to call it a reimagining. That said, it was a beautiful interpretation and I preferred that it wasn’t a direct retelling. It gave Beauty and the Beast a new found freshness and life which I appreciated.

The story revolves around sisters Marie and Ama who make their living selling wild perfumes (sigh) and Marie is knowledgeable in herbalism. Marie utilises this knowledge to infiltrate an old mansion which she believes cursed her sister Ama years before, making Ama turn into a beast every month. Meanwhile people in the village are being killed and Marie is not sure if this is Ama or another beast that exists in hiding.

I was living for the gorgeous atmosphere throughout. It was the perfect book to read in Winter and I felt like I could hear and feel the cold air whistling as a hearth crackled in the background.

There’s a bit of romance but it isn’t overdone or sickly. Marie as a protagonist is strong, caring and relatable yet flawed. I appreciated that Cyla included some confronting family dynamics as it made the narrative feel more authentic. Marie’s relationship with plants was beautiful and added such a whimsical, earthy element to the story.

This book has my heart. I adored it and I hope I have convinced you by now to read it.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Alicia.
522 reviews8 followers
September 15, 2021
Thank you to the author, Cyla Panin, for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review
5/5 stars
I absolutely loved this book. I loved the story, I loved the characters and I loved the way it drew me in whenever I picked it up. The book is told in first person by Marie and we learn that her sister, Ama, turns into a beast once a month. Marie uses honeysuckle in her perfumes to mark a victim for Ama, but when a young boy turns up dead she starts to question her control over her sister.
I got sucked into the world that Panin crafted every time I picked this book up, and I found myself not wanting to put it down. It was vivid and easy to feel like I was right there with the characters searching for answers and truths about who was killing children and how to break Ama’s curse.
Marie was an amazing character and I thought she was really relatable. Her anxiety over the situation felt realistic and all the mentions of her sweaty palms and how she always noticed it made me connect with her more. She was so strong and determined and her love and faith in her sister was a highlight of the book. The relationship between Marie and Ama was so intense and strong. I was really rooting for them both the whole time.
I also loved the developing relationship between Marie and Sebastian. The slow buildup of trust and how it slowly turned into a friendship and hints of more was amazing. It felt realistic for the timeline and the story and I loved Sebastian.
I thought the pacing and tone were really good, and there were so many moments of tension and fear balanced with lighthearted moments. Marie’s desire t I determination for answers was compelling and I was eagerly awaiting answers Along with her. The introduction of the magic was really intriguing and I thought it was easy to understand. I would have loved to get a bit more of the magic, but the answers we got were everything we needed for the story.
If you’re looking for a twist on a beauty and the beast retelling with a mystery, magic, family, and strong characters, I would highly recommend picking up Stalking Shadows.
September 26, 2021
*I received an e-arc from the author and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I love historical fiction, as well as Beauty and the Beast retellings, so I had a feeling that I would really enjoy this book. My assumptions were correct! The setting was gothic and very atmospheric and I loved being immersed into this world.

Marie mixes perfumes that she sells on market day in her small French town. Her hope is that she makes enough money to make sure her and her sister Ama are well taken care of in the years to come, as their father is absent most of the time. Her perfumes are more than simple wares to sell however, as some of them are laced with death. Maries laces a few not with poison, but with the scent of honeysuckle that she has trained her sister to respond too. Marie marks her victim, and then Ama attacks, not as a girl, but as a beast which she transforms into every full moon.

Marking the victims for Ama helps to control her, and keep suspicions away. A young boy in the village turns up dead, and Marie realizes she may be losing control over her sister. Marie knows she must find a cure, and she looks to the place where Ama was cursed in the first place, the home of Lord Sebastien. Once she gets to the Lord’s mansion, Marie begins to form a fondness for him and his younger brother, Lucien. Things are not as straightforward as she thought they were, and there are dark and sinister things happening in her village and the woods surrounding it.

I really enjoyed Marie’s journey as she’s definitely a morally grey character, and she makes some questionable choices. She is passionately loyal to her sister and is often selfless, putting her own needs and wants aside to help her.

If you like stories with twists and turns, slow burn romance, atmospheric settings, and sisterhood, I think you would really enjoy this one. A strong debut from Cyla Panin! I can’t wait to read more from her. Stalking Shadows is available now, so be sure to pick it up or request from your local library.
Profile Image for Brittany (hauntedbycandlelight).
239 reviews64 followers
August 19, 2021
“𝗦𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗺𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗯𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗱. 𝗜𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗵𝗲𝗿, 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱��𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗻.”

𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗟𝗞𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗦𝗛𝗔𝗗𝗢𝗪𝗦 is the Beauty and the Beast retelling we have all been waiting for. And it’s so unique, that I would actually say it’s a reimagining. With gothic descriptions, a brooding love interest and Marie, a sister who will stop at nothing to protect Ama.

Potions, tricks and chains. Winds whipping through darkened hallways guided by candlelight. Snow falling on tree tops lining the darkening woods. Two sisters, Marie and Ama, clinging to each other. Sprinkles of magic, herbalism and love. Secrets whispered behind walls, and slipping between moments of joy.

Chamomile to curb a cough. Lavender to sleep. But Foxglove, in larger doses, is a poison.

This has everything you could ever want. A little bit of magic, monsters and a town full of people who persecute anyone who is different.

Thank you the author, Cyla Palin and Netgalley for my advanced copy!

I can’t wait for my beautiful hard copy to arrive!

Profile Image for Alex Nonymous.
Author 18 books333 followers
March 31, 2021
Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Stalking Shadows in exchange for an honest review.

I love the premise here. I'm all for beauty and the beast retellings, but so many "girl kidnapped and falls for magical creature" ones have come out recently that it was really refreshing to read one that reallocates the beast character to a sibling. The narration was also fairly good and I think Marie and the characters around her were well developed and easy to root for.

I do think this tries to be a lot twistier than it actually is because a lot of the foreshadowing and clues is really really heavy-handed and despite being really intelligent, Marie constantly pulls the whole "I'm noticing and narrating this but I guess it's not important so I won't think much of it!" thing that makes it very obvious that its clearly a clue she'll revisit later. Other than that, I think this was quite well done.
Profile Image for Dana.
710 reviews40 followers
January 15, 2022
This was surprisingly disappointing for me. I really expected more of a dark Beauty and the Beast retelling but it wasn't very Beauty and the Beast at all. There's a beast, but that's it.

I was conflicted about Marie's feelings for her sister. She loves her with her whole being, but when it was possible that Ama killed a child, Marie didn't hesitate to be suspicious of Ama and didn't listen to her at all. She was super controlling of Ama and justified it with her fierce "love".

I didn't care too much for Sebastian either. He cried literally every chapter???? I like that he's sensitive, but holy moly it felt a bit much.

The plot twists were weird and too coincidental for me to believe them and overall, I'm just left feeling 'meh' about the whole thing. Oh well.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
731 reviews116 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned-books'
September 10, 2021
I am really struggling with the pacing of this inventive novel. For the time being, I’m going to shift it to my “I Will Come Back For You” shelf. It is with a heavy heart that I do this, as I love the concept, but I’m not currently invested in the story. Perhaps I will return to this later in the month.

I am immensely grateful to Books Forward and Amulet Press for my digital review copy of Stalking Shadows.
Profile Image for Jania Johnson.
13 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2020
I read an early version of this and it was SO GOOD. Very visceral!! Can’t wait to read the final version.
Profile Image for Grace.
892 reviews74 followers
March 12, 2023
I’m so glad it’s finally over 😅 It wasn’t HORRIBLE, but I was so busy with a show I was in that it took me 2.5 weeks to read this instead of my usual 3ish days, so I just slogged through it. Maybe I would have liked it more if I’d had more time to read, but it didn’t really capture me either way.
Profile Image for diana.
814 reviews116 followers
October 21, 2021
Full review posted on Chasing Chapters.

Rating: 3.5 of 5

“Even if I achieved a good life, it would taste like ashes without her to share it with.”

First of all, I love the gorgeous cover! And I absolutely LOVE the fresh and unique take on a beloved story that has been reimagined countless times.

Cyla Panin brings a new twist to Beauty and the Beast while exploring love, family, morality, survival and sacrifice. What lengths will you go to protect and save your family?

What I loved most about this debut is Marie’s complex character. From the very beginning you can see her struggle in choosing between doing what she feels is best to save her sister and doing what is morally right. She’s incredibly flawed and yet feels so real and authentic. She’s someone you can easily empathize with. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to save her sister. I found Marie’s protectiveness and loyalty to Ama so incredibly admirable. Marie doesn’t always make the right decisions, sometimes acts questionably, and is never without fault, but everything she does she does for her sister. Marie’s character arc was incredible to witness.

This wouldn’t be Gothic fantasy without the dark spooky woods, a fabled evil witch, a mysterious mansion with secret gardens, murder mystery and broody male hero… all of that and more Stalking Shadows delivers.

I received a finished copy from the author/ publisher to read and review.
Profile Image for Jessica F.
127 reviews4 followers
September 7, 2021
Actual rating 3.5

Marie and her family live in a small village and has a huge secret to hide - her younger sister, Ama, is cursed and turns into a beast once a month and eats humans. Marie has been helping her manage her condition for years, but when people show up dead in the village before it is her time to change Marie is worried her sister will become uncontrollable. Marie sets off to find a cure for the curse and to solve the new murders.

Stalking Shadows is a dark historical fantasy based on the tale of the Beast of Gevaudan. Panin took the people associated with the historical events and gave them a unique gothic spin. The highlights for me were the dark setting, diverse characters, and witchy vibes. I had never heard of the Beast of Gevaudan before reading this book and Stalking Shadows brought it to life in a brilliant way.
Profile Image for Mary.
400 reviews39 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 6, 2021
This review is not intended to “cancel” the book as I don’t have sufficient context having stopped reading it within a few chapters. But it is problematic for me.

After the 7th time—Yes. 7th because I counted—that main characters thinks that homeless people are invaluable was the biggest reason I stopped reading this book. The MC marks homeless people for her wolf sister to eat because they won’t be noticeable and missed. Okay from a logical stand point I get that. But then every time she thinks about the homeless they’re always described in such negative manners. And I’m sorry but wtf? I don’t need to keep reading over and over and over that homeless people won’t be missed. They have no value. That they’re gross and beneath the character.

It’s so heavy handed that a part of me wonders if had I finished the novel it becomes a huge plot twist aka the characters realizes that homeless people are people and they matter. That this becomes some big part of her character development. I don’t know. It’s so overly shoved in my face that I’m 97% convinced this is what she comes to realize. That her shitty Kingdom is mistreating the homeless (gasp!) and it’s her big character growth via this revelation. Either way, it’s too heavy handed no matter WHAT the book ends up doing with it.

Putting that aside I found the sister obnoxious.

And even so. Let’s say I could get past the overkill of hating on the homeless and the annoying AF character, the writing style wasn’t doing it for me.

And what I read of the plot wasn’t holding my attention.

I wanted to like this but it had too many combinations of things to put me off as a reader.
Profile Image for Steph.
444 reviews42 followers
April 6, 2021
Stalking Shadows is a wonderfully gothic tale that will sweep readers off their feet! I loved the main characters and their distinctive personalities. This book was woven with magic, mayhem, monsters and loyalty. I thought this book was really gritty, original and unique. It's in a universe of its own with its gothic and lyrical writing. I also loved the perfume that served as a particular importance to the storyline, I thought that was really neat!
Profile Image for Mary.
22 reviews2 followers
June 12, 2020
This book was unlike anything I've read yet - haunting, atmospheric, and compelling from the very first page.
Profile Image for Kathryn (Blissfully Bookish Co).
103 reviews34 followers
September 14, 2021
Beauty and the Beast tends to be a fairytale that’s overdone, and frankly, one that is hard to twist and make interesting, but Cyla succeeds at making Stalking Shadows a fresh story all on its own. While there are many recent stories showing main characters who fall in love with “monsters”, it’s refreshing to see the tale reimagined to a sibling relationship instead. Stalking Shadows is rich with gothic aesthetic, dark magic, witchiness, and even cottage core vibes. It’s a fantastic addition to your fall TBR lineup and fits in perfectly with heavily atmospheric reads like Erin A. Craig’s Small Favors and Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone.

The story is set in the 1800s in a remote village separated from the rest of the world by a dark wood - one filled with horrors including a woods witch, wolves, and beasts known to terrorize villagers. Only… Maybe the horrors aren’t just in the woods and instead walk among the villagers. One of their fellow villagers, Ama, is destined to turn into a beast and take the life of one villager while in her beast form. Instead of leaving the death to chance, Ama’s sister, Marie, marks villagers with honeysuckle perfume, which Ama recognizes while turned.

The killings have rules meant to protect both Ama and Marie and avoid detection. All is going according to plan until a boy ends up dead and Marie must face the prospect that Ama is losing control. To find a cure, Marie must return to the house where Ama was cursed, home of Lord Sebastian LeClaire. But not all is what it seems and what happens when Marie connects with Sebastian and his brother Lucien?

Stalking Shadows has a cast of characters who are well developed and compelling. It’s easy to understand their motivation and the driving force behind their actions and while there is usually one character who is unlikeable - that is not the case here. Marie is determined and fiercely loyal to her sister, and while she is not perfect, Cyla does a good job of convincing readers to empathize with her regardless. Ama is the carefree younger sister who has an “everything will work out” attitude. Sebastian mirrors Marie in many ways and is a protector to his younger sibling, Lucien. Lucien is quite young but has a shining personality and is ultimately very sweet. Their housekeeper, Madam Écrue provides a dose of motherly love with a little bit of meddling. The relationships between characters are also very realistic and easy to understand.

The writing successfully brings the gothic setting off the page. The atmosphere is really what elevates this story and makes it hard to put down. Throughout the book, readers are enveloped in the world from Marie and Ama’s quaint cottage to the frozen woods full of dangers, to Sebastian’s deteriorating estate.

While this book is a wonderful debut, it may have benefited from some further editing when it comes to plot and pace. The final climaxed felt very rushed in comparison with the rest of the book and the conflict was easily resolved without much fuss. There were several reveals and twists, though they had been foreshadowed throughout the book and did not come as a surprise. Without spoilers, some of the actions of characters that happened prior to the book could have used some additional explanation and maybe more plausible reasonings. All things considered, while it may have needed further polishing, the shortcomings did not keep this from being an enjoyable book that keeps readers turning the page.

Finally, there are sensitivities to keep in mind while reading this story. Marie lives with anxiety and many times is not managing her anxiety well. The story also deals with the topic of terminal illness and parental loss - both of which happens on-page. Additionally, parental abuse is a reoccurring topic in Stalking Shadows as Marie and Ama’s father is a mostly absentee alcoholic. Finally, the targets of Ama’s killings are “drifters and grifters” of the village. While this does make sense from a practical standpoint of the deaths of people without permanent ties to the community will not draw the same amount of attention, some of the language used around this plot point could use more nuance. While most of these things were handled with nuance and appropriateness, proceed with care if they are sensitive topics for you.

Be sure to add this to your fall TBR to get in all the dark and gothic vibes!
Profile Image for Paige.
1,719 reviews76 followers
September 18, 2021
Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Stalking Shadows

Author: Cyla Panin

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: 1 same sex couple

Rating: 3/5

Recommended For...: young adult readers, fantasy, retelling

Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling

Publication Date: September 14, 2021

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 400

Recommended Age: 14+ (kidnapping TW, anxiety TW, romance, child abuse TW, slight violence and gore)

Explanation of CWs: Slight romance, gore, and violence. Anxiety is present through a lot of the story. Kidnapping is integral to the story. Child abuse is touched on.

Synopsis: 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 LeClaire. But once she gets into the mansion, she discovers dark secrets hidden away—secrets of the curse, of Lord Sebastien . . . and of herself.

Review: For the most part, I enjoyed this book. It had a well done story and I was immediately intrigued by it in the beginning. It had great world building as well.

However, I felt like the plot of the book differed from where the characters were going. The sisters are supposed to be super bonded but aren't really in the book? The book slowed down significantly after the first few chapters. And the character development suffered a lot from the slow book and the lack of connection between them and the reader.

Verdict: It was ok, but could be better.
Profile Image for Jordan (Forever Lost in Literature).
806 reviews102 followers
September 23, 2021
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Stalking Shadow is a unique Beauty and the Beast-inspired retelling featured two sisters, Ama and Marie, as they struggle to manage the fact that Ama turns into a beast every month and must satiate her thirst. This was a delightfully gothic-feeling fantasy that dealt with some serious and occasionally difficult topics, and I felt that Panin executed this story wonderfully.

The story largely follows Marie as she decides that she must find a cure for the curse that turns Ama in to a beast, and to do so she visits the LeClaire mansion, where she believes Ama was first cursed. Once there, Marie finds herself in the employ of Lord Sebastien LeClaire, where she is meant to help find a cure and assist his ailing younger brother, Lucien, who is slowly dying of consumption. The LeClaire mansion is a dark place filled with secrets at every turn, but it is also a place a love between the remaining members of the household.

Marie is a steadfast protagonist and I admired her continued determination and bravery throughout. Marie's love for her sister was tangible, and I appreciated her resourcefulness in both taking care of her and in figuring out a way to allow her sister to "safely" follow her nature. Her knowledge of herbs and flowers that she uses in order to craft perfumes to sell to townspeople also aids her in acquiring a position at the mansion in order to attempt to stop her sister's curse, and I enjoyed seeing this element woven into the story. I questioned a few of her decisions at times, and I can't say I always agreed with her, especially when it came to her handling of Lucien sometimes, but I can't fault her for anything she did because she was willing to do whatever it took to cure and save her sister, and I think anyone with a loved one can understand that.

The setting and overall atmosphere and Stalking Shadow was so perfectly done to where I could feel the sort of dark, somewhat isolating sense of the town in which Marie lives. It just feels like there was some thick fog hanging around throughout many of the events of this novel, and I really think that helped to cement the mysterious nature of everything going on in the plot, as well as the many secrets that are constantly lingering on the fringe of the story. This is also a story that is centered around sisterhood and survival, but covers so much more, from childhood traumas to disjointed families and how to move forward in life in the best way possible.

The pacing of Stalking Shadows was a little slow at times, and I feel as though the book could have used a bit more direction at times, but I didn't find this too much of an issue. I also felt that some of the character development was both slow and sudden in its own right, but again, nothing that felt overwhelming or that really took away from my enjoyment.

Overall, I've given Stalking Shadows four stars!
Profile Image for _ayah_reads.
2 reviews
September 17, 2021
"Warning: This book contains violence, depictions of alcoholism, the death of a child and depictions of mental health struggles."

Stalking shadows is a gothic fantasy novel written by Cyla Panin. It reimagines the tale Beauty and the Beast and does a wonderful job of using myths, such as the Beast of Gèvaudan, to create a gothic atmosphere that many readers could fall in love with.

It is surprising, to say the least, that this was Cyla Panin’s debut novel. It was written so well that I could barely believe it. Some of the lines she wrote were even worthy of my favourite quotes list, and that’s saying a lot.

Whilst I have no doubt that gothic fantasy readers will fall in love with this novel, it was a little harder for me to get my head around it. Some of the concepts were a little strange and the gothic atmosphere wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed but the story did keep me on the edge of my seat and I loved how the author wrote the relationship dynamics throughout the novel. There were many aspects that I could appreciate and the writing style was definitely a good choice.

Another thing that I absolutely adored was the fact that the main character was not perfect by any means. Instead, she was extremely flawed and was sometimes hard to root for. She does many horrible things throughout the book and it is difficult for readers to overlook the actions she takes. Even though it is made quite clear that the lying, murder and the other horrific things she does are done out of love for her sister, they are not excused in any shape or form.

The novel does have underlying traits that have been inspired by Beauty and the Beast. However, I do not agree with it being marketed as a “B&B” retelling since it does much more than retell the classic tale and instead reimagines it.

If I had to criticize one thing in this book, it would have to be how the story ended. I felt like the ending was a little rushed and predictable and I wish that the resolution had been met with a little more resistance.

All in all, I found the book to be a fantastic read and I would recommend it to those who enjoy gothic fantasy novels.

“This review was done on a work of fiction, In no way does the reviewer condone any actions that may have taken place in the book.”

(Check out the review on my blog: https://herbookishobsession.wordpress... in/)
Profile Image for Katelyn Furtick.
543 reviews19 followers
September 14, 2021
**I received a physical ARC of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

A YA gothic, feminist, fantasy Beauty and the Beast retelling? Sign me up! This book was so good. I was immediately drawn into the story.

This was full of everything I love in a retelling. Full of magic, a gorgeous atmosphere, gothic aesthetic, and great characters.

Marie was a fantastic main character. She was unbelievably strong, and quick-witted. I really enjoyed watching her growth throughout the book. I also really appreciated the sister bond she had with Ama, as I can totally relate.

The storytelling and the atmosphere of this book was so immersive. I felt like I was watching from the sidelines with this one. Panin is a great writer. I’m honestly shocked that this is her debut novel. I’ve not been in a huge fantasy mood lately, but this story reminded me why I love fantasy so much.

I loved all of the characters, and all of the twists the book took. I do wish there had been some more about Lucien in the end, but as a whole, I loved it all. There is a bit of romance, but it was overwhelming to the story- just a bit of a sweet add-in. The forefront storyline stays in place throughout, which I love.

The ending was good. It was a bit flatter than I wanted it to be, but still good! I expected something crazy with all of the build up, but I still think that the story flowed really well and ended exactly as it should have.

If you’re a fan of retellings with strong female leads, definitely pick this one up! It’s a perfect winter read to add to your TBR! I for sure will be reading anything Panin publishes in the future.

This one is out TODAY!! So make sure you go grab a copy wherever sells books! :)

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