About the Book:
Title: Stalking Shadows
Author: Cyla Panin
Publisher: Amulet/Abrams Books
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
*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.
About the Author:
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.