Review: The Girl who Lost her Shadow

Shadow 150

When Gail’s shadow disappears on the morning of her twelfth birthday, she views its loss as just another a symptom of her life falling apart. When her troubled big sister’s shadow follows, Gail is compelled to set out on a search – meeting new friends and remarkable creatures, and discovering truths about herself along the way.

Set on a Scottish island, this story is also a celebration of the marine life that Gail and her sister Kay are passionate about protecting – from sperm whales and manta ray, to fresh-water pearl mussels and even a tenacious limpet. Their plight is critical to events, so it is fitting that we experience Gail’s emotions in lyrical, oceanic terms too – from “the pufferfish inside her stomach” to “the smile that glittered in her eyes, like a thousand luminous jellyfish.”

The Girl Who Lost her Shadow is the debut from Glasgow-based writer Emily Illett, who won the Kelpies Prize for children’s fiction for it, in 2017. It is a unique and original story, striking a delicate balance between addressing real-life issues, from poaching to mental health, and creating a beguiling magical world, in which shadows have free will and can be captured and even transferred.

There is a lot to fathom in The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow, and it’s well worth diving in. Like taking a swim in the Atlantic, you’ll find depth, darkness – and plenty of sparkle.

The Girl Who Lost her Shadow, by Emily Ilett, Kelpies

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