Publication Date: June, 2010 (paperback edition)
This heady mix of ghost story and mystery, drenched in the languid, humid atmosphere of a small Louisiana town, should appeal to the core audience of the Twilight series: adolescent girls who like a little sexiness in their ghostly pursuers. Ennui can get people into all sorts of trouble, and the kind of blank summer days staring down 14-year-old Iris and her friends lead them to casting spells in the town cemetery. A masculine whisper in Iris’ ear shoots them into true ghost-hunting, with a Ouija board indicating that the whisperer belongs to the town’s only mystery, a 17-year-old boy who disappeared almost 20 years ago. Mitchell skillfully segues from gothic romance to prosaic mystery as the friends examine microfiche records and question the boy’s relatives and friends. As the ghost becomes increasingly insistent that his mystery be solved, Iris discovers unnerving connections to her own family.
Shadowed Summer is a delightful small book. That said, I have to admit that I read two books alongside it that I finished before I finished Shadowed Summer. How do I say this without saying pretentious? I guess I'll just say that Shadowed Summer is a quiet book. That's not a bad thing, but at times it was hard for me get into it.
Iris is a strong protagonist who finds herself mixed up with a supernatural mystery, mostly because she and her best friend Colette are lacking for much to do in their small Louisiana town. Saundra Mitchell describes Ondine, Louisiana as it were a character instead of the setting. There's one mystery in this sleepy little town and when Iris and her friends set about trying to get to the bottom of it, they find a bit too much excitement.
Colette and Iris' relationship is fraught at times, as Iris sets about trying to find out what happened to Elijah Landry, and Colette is discovering her affection for their mutual friend Ben. I wish there were more books about younger teens, like this one, because reading this made me feel like I was fourteen again, because like Iris, that was the summer my best friend got a boyfriend and began to leave me behind.
I think Shadowed Summer is a great Southern Gothic tale that may be a bit slow moving at times, but features characters in the truest sense of the word. The ending was surprising, an I never saw it coming!