Shadow Girl by Liana Liu

Shadow Girl

The house on Arrow Island is full of mystery.Yet when Mei arrives, she can’t help feeling relieved. She’s happy to spend the summer in an actual mansion tutoring a rich man’s daughter if it means a break from her normal life—her needy mother, her delinquent brother, their tiny apartment in the city. And Ella Morison seems like an easy charge, sweet and well behaved. What M...

Title:Shadow Girl
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Shadow Girl Reviews

  • rachel • typed truths

    was a poorly paced borefest. I do not understand why this is being pitched as a paranormal mystery when it was so clearly not. The supposed ghost lore is mentioned only a handful of times, and even then, it is not a focus of the story. It was not remotely spooky. There are a few bumps and wails in the night, but they could - and were - easily explained away. It was mostly driven by the fact that Ella, Mei’s student, claims her room is haunted by a ghost. I need way more suspense and

    was a poorly paced borefest. I do not understand why this is being pitched as a paranormal mystery when it was so clearly not. The supposed ghost lore is mentioned only a handful of times, and even then, it is not a focus of the story. It was not remotely spooky. There are a few bumps and wails in the night, but they could - and were - easily explained away. It was mostly driven by the fact that Ella, Mei’s student, claims her room is haunted by a ghost. I need way more suspense and atmosphere and haunting shenanigans to keep me interested than that. The entire subplot was messy and disjointed, thrown in without planning or consideration, and making little sense. We barely know the identity of the ghost - if there even was one - let alone anything more about this world’s ghost lore. I wanted to be spooked. I don’t necessarily mind an open ending, in fact, I would have liked it if the story had left us wondering whether it was real or all in Ella’s head. I just needed the story to choose whether it was a paranormal mystery or not and commit to delivering that story, not half-assing it like it did.

    The fact that we follow the petty drama of the Morison family, rather than the ghost story, could have been perfectly fine if I had actually cared about the family. But I didn’t. Their lack of personality made it hard for me to empathise with their situation. Henry was stereotypical and dry. His romance with Mei was rushed, awkward and unnecessary. I did like Ella but Vanessa, Jeffery, Mei’s mother, Doris and Mr Morison were all shallow and underdeveloped. I was also confused by the Jeffery drama. They clearly state was is happening halfway through the book - or imply it so heavily, so clearly, that it is obvious to everyone - but the fact that it is a Thing was a big twist at the end? I did not even realise it was meant to be a mystery!

    I wish I could say that I loved the narration but I honestly did not even enjoy Mei as a protagonist. Her internal monologue revealed how she hid her rude and judgemental self under layers of over-the-top politeness and fake smiles. I found it difficult to care about her when I was so frustrated with her. She made Henry out to be this snobbish rich boy for no good reason. He was sweet with his sister and kind toward her. Her antagonism was off-putting and just judgemental.

    Liu does have a very simplistic writing style. I loved how well the story flowed and how it was so easy to flick through the whole book in a single sitting. I wish she had focused on developing her character more, however, or at least given us a creepy atmosphere for the ghost elements to shine.

    I did like that Liu did highlight the microaggressions faced by a lot of Asian-Americans in their daily lives. Obviously, I cannot speak for the representation myself - Mei is Chinese-American - but I loved how well the cultural differences between Mei and Henry were woven in. It was a nice touch.

    Very disappointing. There was nothing substantial that I enjoyed about this book. At all.

  • Sarah

    (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

    This was a contemporary story about a girl staying in a haunted house.

    Mei was a nice girl, and she worked so hard to try and get somewhere in life. She also really cared for her family, and was irritated by the way her brother behaved.

    The storyline in this was about Mei being hired as an academic tutor by a rich family, and being asked to move into their summer home with them. There was some strange goings

    (I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

    This was a contemporary story about a girl staying in a haunted house.

    Mei was a nice girl, and she worked so hard to try and get somewhere in life. She also really cared for her family, and was irritated by the way her brother behaved.

    The storyline in this was about Mei being hired as an academic tutor by a rich family, and being asked to move into their summer home with them. There was some strange goings on, and the daughter of the family, who Mei was tutoring, claimed that the house was haunted by the daughter of the family who originally owned the house.

    The ending to this was pretty good, and I liked the little twist at the end.

    7 out of 10

  • Hollis

    DNF at 49%

    It's been a long time since I DNF'd a book but unfortunately SHADOW GIRL wasn't something I could force myself to push through. Sure, I only had an hour and twenty minutes remaining but I just couldn't do it. For a book that was pitched as a paranormal mystery thriller, there was little plot to that affect.

    Instead we got to experience a rehashing of what the role of an academic tutor meant, watch our protagonist flip flop between liking the brother of her charge and then quickly disli

    DNF at 49%

    It's been a long time since I DNF'd a book but unfortunately SHADOW GIRL wasn't something I could force myself to push through. Sure, I only had an hour and twenty minutes remaining but I just couldn't do it. For a book that was pitched as a paranormal mystery thriller, there was little plot to that affect.

    Instead we got to experience a rehashing of what the role of an academic tutor meant, watch our protagonist flip flop between liking the brother of her charge and then quickly disliking him again, experience her pushover-ness when she'd promise herself she wouldn't do any errands or favours for Ella's mother that didn't directly involve her tutoring.. only to do them anyway.. and so much more that was also a lot of nothing.

    Ontop of the plot, or lack thereof, Liu's writing style just didn't appeal to me. It seemed she tried to make it flow in ways, try to keep the narrative interesting, but unfortunately the attempt fell flat. Which mirrored my experience with the characters. I didn't find anyone sympathetic or interesting or compelling and the vague hints towards this mystery was equally as bland.

    Sorry, wouldn't recommend.

    ** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  • Llinos Cathryn

    This was a heck of a page-turner – I was totally hooked by the gothic creepiness and the increasingly oppressive atmosphere of the Morisons’ island. I loved how that atmosphere echoed the way Mei felt trapped in her family life, and the way the ghost story paralleled and linked together with Mei’s personal journey. An evocative and memorable read.

  • Maria (Big City Bookworm)

    --

    While Shadow Girl has an intriguing premise, it sadly fell a little short for me. I was really excited about the fusion of contemporary and mystery/suspense, but unfortunately it didn’t work very well in this case. There was a lot that was left unexplained and not in a good way. I did like the contemporary aspects of the novel though!

    --

    I really did enjoy the mystery of this story…until I realized that I wasn’t going to be getting any answer

    --

    While Shadow Girl has an intriguing premise, it sadly fell a little short for me. I was really excited about the fusion of contemporary and mystery/suspense, but unfortunately it didn’t work very well in this case. There was a lot that was left unexplained and not in a good way. I did like the contemporary aspects of the novel though!

    --

    I really did enjoy the mystery of this story…until I realized that I wasn’t going to be getting any answers which you can read more about below. The mystery and suspense is what kept me from putting this book down! I really wanted to know what was going on the entire time I was reading which made Shadow Girl a really fast-paced read!

    As you’ll learn more about below, Shadow Girl was a bit of a fusion novel. It contained both Mystery/Suspense and Contemporary elements. There are my top two genres to read, but I think I love contemporary just a tad bit more. I loved the contemporary aspects of this book. I liked learning more about Mei and her family and how she will do anything to become successful. I loved her interactions with the Morison family and how she fell in love with their lifestyle which is the complete opposite of her home life. These were the moments that ultimately captured my interest in the end as I was so sure I was going to love this book for it’s creepy/suspense factor.

    --

    Towards the end of the book, I kept reading and reading and the amount of remaining pages I needed to read were becoming less and less and still, I was getting no answers. What was the point of the haunted house? Why was this ghost terrorizing Ella and Mei? Was it relevant? Honestly, I don’t think so. I just honestly didn’t understand the point. The horror/suspense aspects of this novel are what initially made me pick it up and, unfortunately, those aspects fell short.

    Initially, this was what I was the most excited about when it came to Shadow Girl. Contemporary and Suspense/Mystery are my favourite genres to read and to have them mixed together for this story really intrigued me! However, as you can see above, it didn’t end up working so well in the end. I just wish there was a little more to it. The idea was there and it could have been really cool, but to much was left unanswered…and not in a good way.

    --

    While I enjoyed some aspects of Shadow Girl, I was left feeling disappointed by others. I really wanted to love this one, but unfortunately it lacked in the areas that I was initially really excited for. I won’t give up on Liana Liu’s stories just yet though as I really did enjoy her writing style!

  • Lissa {rabidreadings}

    The mystery was the driving force for me as I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters. I needed to know what was happening, why it was happening, was there actually something happening?! I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to unanswered questions so Shadow Girl hit all the right marks with the mystery. Right up until the end.. where I was left wanting more regarding the conclusion.

    In many ways the thing that may interest the reader is the mystery of the house on Arrow Island, but Shadow Girl

    The mystery was the driving force for me as I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters. I needed to know what was happening, why it was happening, was there actually something happening?! I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to unanswered questions so Shadow Girl hit all the right marks with the mystery. Right up until the end.. where I was left wanting more regarding the conclusion.

    In many ways the thing that may interest the reader is the mystery of the house on Arrow Island, but Shadow Girl is more about family and personal sacrifice.. what Mei is willing to sacrifice for her family. I very much liked how Mei’s personal story is concluded, I simply wanted more from the mystery aspect of the plot.

    Overall Shadow Girl is a solid read, and really shows how flawed people can be regardless of how much money they have or the appearance the set before us. Nobody is perfect. If you like a bit of a mystery mixed with a young girl’s personal growth story I recommend you give Liana Liu’s Shadow Girl a read.

  • Dani - Perspective of a Writer

    Mei is an academic tutor saving for college. She takes the job helping Ella as she gets to meet her father, Mr. Morison a powerful man in the financial industry and as a bonus she gets to spend the summer out at their vacation home on Arrow Island. But things are not as easy going as they appear. She is annoyed by Henry, her charge's brother, she is taken advantage of by Nessa, her boss and then there are the unexplained noises she hears at nigh

    Mei is an academic tutor saving for college. She takes the job helping Ella as she gets to meet her father, Mr. Morison a powerful man in the financial industry and as a bonus she gets to spend the summer out at their vacation home on Arrow Island. But things are not as easy going as they appear. She is annoyed by Henry, her charge's brother, she is taken advantage of by Nessa, her boss and then there are the unexplained noises she hears at night—the howling and thumping and cries.

    This book could have been one of my favorite books of the year...

    What I liked!

    -MEI! I really liked the main character and how she put a lot of effort into getting out of her poor situation and how she worked out how to work with these rich women and the kids she helps. This could be any kid in America today trying to find their way out of poverty.

    -The Chinese heritage. Mei is American but her mom is wholly Chinese and talks to her daughter in her native language. I loved this part of their mother/daughter relationship BUT I wish that more was incorporated having to do with her heritage!

    -The contrast of rich family to poor circumstances was startlingly brutal. It really made you sympathize with Mei and see why she wants to make it big time in the financial sector. The

    -The ghost! This was a great idea even though it was rather easy for Mei to learn all about who the ghost was... actually Ella and Henry both knew more than her and it was super easy for them to get the information. I still enjoyed her struggle to believe the ghost existed and to give credence to what the ghost said was going to happen...

    -The mystery of her boss's husband was obvious but i enjoyed the pressures it put on Mei... The story could have been terribly boring but what she wanted warred with what she thought she should do and I enjoyed that!

    Why it wasn't my favorite book of the year...

    This book was meant to be a fusion genre. Fusion is one of my ALL TIME favorite genres... I like to mix it up and keep the story different with elements from other genres. The author did a good job working other genres into the story... the problem is the pay off for each genre MUST BE PRESENT! And that is unfortunately lacking in this book.

    -Mystery: From who the ghost is and why she wanted revenge on the Morison family.

    -Thriller: What does the ghost have to do with her charge, Ella? Why is she pestering the girl and now Mei?

    -Contemporary: Mei has to decide what she is going to do with her knowledge about Mr. Morison... will she take the internship?

    -Coming of Age: Mei must decide which school she will be attending... her first choice or one for her mother?!

    -Romance: Will she or won't she fall for Henry Morison?

    Each one of these had its own ending but they were all limp... Only one had a proper strong ending and while I liked her choice on that one I wanted more to do with the mystery! With a little more development and some stronger plot I felt like the premise could have been realizes better. Also the romance had little to do with anything and smacked of instalove. I didn't hate it but it just felt out of place and shoe-horned in. Then to have that limp ending on it.

    I didn't hate this book... it was a great read as far as a REAL high school graduate who is quite uncertain what to do next. She doesn't quite trust the adults in her life to lead her to the right decision. The fusion fell flat but the journey wasn't totally lost. There is an ending to everything and Mei is well on her way to any future she imagines for herself!

    I wish the cover and title better reflected a graduate's muddled journey and how helping Ella let go of the ghost helped her too...

    ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Premise & World Building

    ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cover & Title

    ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Development & Storycraft

    ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative

    ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing

    ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Relationships

    ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Feelings

    BOTTOM LINE: Not quite the thrilling ghost story advertised but a lovely HS graduate muddling along...

    ______________________

    You can find this review and many others on my book blog @

    . See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...

  • Jay G

    Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel:

    *I was sent a copy of this by the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

    One summer, Mei is hired by a wealthy business man and is required to stay on Arrow Island with the family while she tutors Ella. As the summer progresses, she becomes interested in Ella's older brother, Henry. She also notices that at night, mysterious noises happen and although she doesn't believe in ghosts,

    Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel:

    *I was sent a copy of this by the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

    One summer, Mei is hired by a wealthy business man and is required to stay on Arrow Island with the family while she tutors Ella. As the summer progresses, she becomes interested in Ella's older brother, Henry. She also notices that at night, mysterious noises happen and although she doesn't believe in ghosts, she begins to become curious about the history of the house and the family who once lived there.

    I really wanted to like this book as the premise sounded interesting... Unfortunately, I found it to be boring and very slow paced. I felt that the book was pitched as a paranormal mystery, but felt as though the ghost aspect was only a sub plot to the Morrison family drama. I wasn't invested in any of the characters or care about what happened to them. Mei bothered me as a main character and I felt that she was very critical and pessimistic, but tried to cover it with being overly nice and polite. It honestly just got on my nerves quickly and I wanted her to stop talking half the time. I also felt that the plot jumped around so much there was no clear path the story was trying to take... it seemed like it was a bunch of subplots thrown together in the hopes of creating something interesting.

    Overall, it just wasn't the book for me.

  • Amy

    If you are looking for a suspenseful, paranormal mystery, this isn't the book for you.

    If you are looking for an interesting, broken, (Asian!) heroine in a YA novel that is light on the romance and angst, yet emotionally tumultuous, this is probably for you.

    My recommendation: go in with no expectations and enjoy!

    I didn't particularly like this book at first, but it grew on me. The writing is first-person present and full of short, abrupt sentences. Mei is initially closed off and not especiall

    If you are looking for a suspenseful, paranormal mystery, this isn't the book for you.

    If you are looking for an interesting, broken, (Asian!) heroine in a YA novel that is light on the romance and angst, yet emotionally tumultuous, this is probably for you.

    My recommendation: go in with no expectations and enjoy!

    I didn't particularly like this book at first, but it grew on me. The writing is first-person present and full of short, abrupt sentences. Mei is initially closed off and not especially likable. From the start the "mystery" of Arrow Island and what will happen to the Morisons is pretty predictable. The paranormal aspects were, at best, weird. Generally I found them unnecessary.

    Yet as the story progresses, I found myself enjoying it more and more. Mei's relationship with Ella and the Morison family is poignant and well-developed. Her character change is believable, and not just fueled by a boy. I also appreciated Mei's relationship with her own family. It felt raw and real. I like the pacing of this book and the way it breaks up her stay at the Island with a trip home.

    I'd recommend this one - just not as a paranormal thriller. There are paranormal elements, including an exorcising scene and creepy dreams that I didn't take seriously but a younger reader might. This book also contains some language (f-bombs) but nothing too heavy.

    I'll definitely keep an eye out for more from this author.

    Thank you for sending this as a Christmas present, Kris!

  • Rebecca McNutt

    is an interesting book, but a little cliche. It's a very generic haunted house tale that boasts a lot of mystery but really doesn't have much of anything mysterious or suspenseful at all in its plot. Some of the characters were very obnoxious too, making it a book that I just wanted to quickly finish.

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