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Monday, February 22, 2021

Glittering White City Backdrop Makes Historical Mystery Especially Colorful and Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for Shadows of the White City, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Veiled in Smoke.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

It's been over twenty years since 43-year-old Sylvie Townsend had her heart smashed to bits by a lying suitor.  She's never quite recovered, but she has found fulfillment in mothering her adopted daughter, Rose Dabrowski.  At 17, Rose is a headstrong young lady who yearns for independence and freedom.  Although Sylvie is trying to loosen the apron strings, she fears her impulsive daughter is headed for nothing but trouble.  When Rose launches a desperate search for her birth family, Sylvie tries not to take it as an affront.  Knowing she needs to be supportive, she attempts to push her anxiety and fears away and give her beloved daughter the space she so obviously needs. 

With the colorful, chaotic 1893 World's Fair in full swing right on their doorstep, Sylvie has warned Rose repeatedly to be very careful when out and about in Chicago.  Her worst fears are realized when her daughter vanishes without a trace.  Has the young woman been abducted?  Or has she run away from home to escape her mother's suffocating watch?  Sylvie cannot rest until she knows Rose is safe.  Enlisting the help of her sister, Meg, and a multi-lingual musician named Kristof Bartok, she combs the extensive World's Fair venue in frantic hope of finding her missing child.  While the search brings her and Kristof loser together, Sylvie feels herself drifting further and further from Rose.  Can she find her daughter before it's too late?  With Chicago growing more crowded and dangerous by the day, Sylvie fears she'll never see Rose again ...

Shadows of the White City, the second book in Jocelyn Green's Windy City Saga trilogy, takes place 22 years after the first book, Veiled in Smoke.  Although Meg and other characters from the initial installment are present in the second, it's really Sylvie's story.  While she and her cohorts aren't super original story people, they are sympathetic and likable.  I definitely identified with Sylvie, especially in her plight as an adoptive mother.  Her devotion to and desperate yearning for connection with her daughter felt all too real to me.  The World's Fair makes for an exciting backdrop to the story.  Green describes it vividly, dropping all kinds of fascinating tidbits about the event throughout the novel.  As far as plot goes, the tale remains compelling to the end, even though it's significantly longer than it needs to be.  The mystery of Rose's whereabouts is not very mysterious or surprising, but it still keeps the story interesting.  Like Veiled in Smoke, Shadows of the White City is a Christian novel, so it's clean, uplifting, and faith-promoting.  Although the book is overly long with a predictable storyline, I still enjoyed this engaging read.  I'm looking forward to the final installment in the trilogy, which features Meg's grown-up daughter and the way the 1915 Eastland Disaster in the Chicago River impacts her life.  Sounds intriguing!


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, scenes of peril, and non-graphic references to prostitution, white slavery, opium abuse, etc.

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Shadows of the White City from the generous folks at Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

4 comments:

  1. This book feels understandably special to you, and warranted. There's nothing better than connecting to a character on a personal level.

    Lovely review, Susan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's funny how the Chicago World's Fair is backdrop to so many novels. I guess it provides interesting historical fodder, busy scenes, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I enjoy novels set in Chicago during the fair. That's how I learned about the White City in the first place, believe it or not. Sounds like a good one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the setting of the Chicago World's Fair! This sounds like a compelling read and a poignant one.

    ReplyDelete

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