Title: Stalking Shadows
Author: Cyla Panin
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 14, 2021
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.
Seventeen-year-old Marie makes perfume with her sister to sell at the market everyday, but there’s a secret behind the perfume. Some of it is laced with a scent that marks the wearer as a target for her sister, Ama, when she turns into a beast once a month. Marie limits the people that Ama kills to ones who won’t be missed from the village, so it doesn’t draw attention to her sister. However, when people are killed between the nights when her sister becomes the beast, Marie gets concerned that their secret will be discovered. Marie goes to the place where her sister became cursed: the home of Lord Sebastian LeClaire. While looking after Sebastian’s sickly younger brother, Marie searches for the cure to her sister’s beastly curse.
This story was an original version of the Beauty and the Beast tale. Instead of the Beauty and Beast characters being female and male, the two characters were sisters. This increased the intensity of their relationship right from the beginning, since Marie was trying to save her sister, rather than being in an enemies-to-lovers relationship like in the original tale.
Though there were some intense moments and high stakes in the story, it was a little slow paced. I would have liked to see more danger and tense moments with the “beast.” There was a lot of reflection and details, but I would have loved more dramatic action.
Stalking Shadows is a great original Beauty and the Beast story!
Thank you Amulet Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
About the author:
Cyla Panin is an MG, YA and Adult Author 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 debut, STALKING SHADOWS will be out with Amulet, Abrams Fall 2021. She is represented by Chloe Seager of the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV, and Film Agency.
Have you read Stalking Shadows? What did you think of it?