Author: Marie Rutkoski
Left alone at a fire station when she was just five years old, Darcy has no idea who she really is. Darcy has always known she was different, but nothing prepares her for the truth. When Conn McCrea enters her life, the questions she’s had about her past feel even more pressing than ever. When a pair of handcuffs are slapped on her and she discovers she can become invisible, Darcy discovers the existence of an alternate world where a war is being waged between Shades and humans. Darcy learns she is a Shade, a nightmare, with the ability to disappear at will, and she will do anything to uncover her past even if it means working for those hunting down her own kind.
“I had been looking down, unable to tear my eyes away from my soaked shirt and the blade about to rip through it, when suddenly I wasn’t there anymore. I was gone. I was air. I was nothing.”
Darcy Jones has been in and out of foster homes her entire life, and where this would make a lot of people bitter, Darcy simply longs to find a real family. For once in her life she has friends and a stable foster home, but there is still that voice that whispers in her ear that she doesn’t belong. When Darcy discovers she is a Shade and she finds The Shadow Society, she still doesn’t quite fit in. There is very little besides distrust existing between Shades and humans, and Darcy, having been raised by humans, is stuck somewhere in between.
Darcy’s relationship with Conn quickly goes south when she discovers his ulterior motive for getting close to her. Conn works for the Interdimensional Bureau of Investigation (IBI), whose goal is to find The Shadow Society’s location and destroy it in an effort to prevent further Shade attacks on humans. As much as Darcy would like to hate Conn, she needs him if she is to discover why she was left alone all those years ago. Conn, despite devoting his life to hunting Shades, finds himself drawn to Darcy which leads him to question the IBI’s objectives. It is this relationship that has a rippling effect on both humans and Shades alike.
Marie Rutkoski’s The Shadow Society is a fun read, but lacked a proper explanation for the hostile relationship between the two groups. Humans are afraid of Shades because of the terrorist attacks that took place years ago, so they feel justified in imprisoning them. Shades do not trust humans when they capture and torture them, and many feel such a strong hatred that they are willing to take part in horrific plots. There’s this endless cycle that is never adequately elaborated on in order to fully understand this alternate world. Is there a history of discrimination that would lead to the hatred we see? What took place between these race (for lack of a better word) that would lead to these terrorist acts in the first place? When Darcy finally discovers who her parents are and what they did, it doesn’t feel satisfactory, mainly because we never delve deep enough into their lives to understand their choices.