Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Review: YA, paranormal, boarding school, mystery


Persephone “Phe” Archer transfers to Devenish Prep at the start of her junior year in order to figure out why her older sister mentioned the school in her diary the day before she died. Located in the small town of Shadow Hills, Massachusetts, this preppy boarding school is highly divided between haughty, genius townies and more average boarding students.

Phe meets and falls for a gorgeous townie student, Zach, who seems to have mysterious powers and hold the secrets to this strange town. As Zach and Phe grow closer and Phe learns more about Shadow Hills, however, little does she realize the extent of her connection with Shadow Hills, and the fact that she’s putting her life in danger…


If you can’t get enough of true love romances set in paranormal plots, but are craving something beyond vampires, SHADOW HILLS will be a great read for you. Though flawed, it contains endearing characters and a well-formed supernatural mystery that will suck you in.

Just when you thought the paranormal genre was all out of fresh ideas, along comes Anastasia Hopcus. The supernatural mystery behind the town of Shadow Hills is a delectably unique mixture of Wicca, witchcraft, mythology, and superpowers, wrapped up in a believable contemporary setting. Hopcus reaches back several centuries and even across an ocean to chart the progression of the supernatural element in an entirely plausible manner that I appreciated.

The characters are, for the most part, gutsy and funny, and thank goodness for Phe not being a boring, spineless protagonist. Phe does not hesitate to break a few rules and go out there to find the answers she wants. Her boarding school friends provide lighthearted and humorous dialogue exchanges whenever the supernatural plot threatens to take over with its melodrama, though Zach is a little too perfect to be credible heart candy (he’s hot! he’s smart! he’s romantic! he’s protective! *swoon*), and the villains run the risk of being caricatures.

The binaries between good and evil are a bit too black-and-white for me, but that won’t bother most readers, as they’ll be too captivated by the romance and suspense to do much outside thinking. SHADOW HILLS freshens up an oversaturated YA genre with a believable romance and interesting take on the supernatural in the town’s history.

Similar Authors
Stephenie Meyer
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures)
Laurie Faria Stolarz
Bree Despain (The Dark Divine)
Maggie Stiefvater
Alexandra Bracken (Brightly Woven)

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - I might be in the minority when I say I'm not that enamored of it. Really, it could be referring to many other paranormal books.

EgmontUSA / July 13, 2010 / Hardcover / 400pp. / $17.99

Book received from ARC tour; other review copy received from publisher.


  1. When I first saw the cover I assumed SHADOW HILLS was self-pubbed, since it looked like something you could do yourself.

    I must admit, I really loved the scene where Phe is trapped in the hall with *something* and is trying to get Zach's attention. So horror movie.

  2. I have discovered that many of the books I have been enjoying are EGMONT titles and I think for a little pub they are doing quite well!

    Hoping to try and get my hands on a copy of this soon!

  3. I'm reading this one right now. It's great, but yes, definitely flawed. That's my only problem with the book--the writing for the conversations is very unrealistic.

  4. I can't wait to read this! I guarantee I'll be the one too caught up in the romance and suspense to notice anything ;)

  5. I can't wait to get this one.. may even go out and get it today!

  6. Shadow Hills sounds like a good, solid book. Not my typical genre but I'd consider giving it a try. Great review, too!

  7. Romance and suspense sounds is my perfect combination, well apart from romance and comedy, that is. Will try this - shame it's only a 3.5!

  8. to whoever said the cover looks like it's self-published.. let me say that the writing seems that way too.

    look, I love anna hopcus. i think she is so sweet and im so happy for her book to be out in public. but let me say that i have to be honest... and this book wasnt good.

    the book had 1000000 plot holes and so many characters were introduced and never developed. i mean why hang out with that one guy (greyson was his name? idk, the school office worker) in the beginning of the book if u arent going to ever use him later on in the book? LOL...........doesnt make sense.....

    i wont be reading the sequel cuz i had a hard time getting through this one and wasnt happy

  9. Despite the lower rating for the plot I'm excited to get to this one on my TBR pile. I keep seeing it floating around in the blogosphere with generally positive discussion and reaction.

  10. I had such high expectations for Shadow Hills unfortunatly the story didn't quite live up to the expecations. Still I enjoyed the story and if there is a sequel I think I have to read it :)


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