Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knuttson is a well-told combination of mythology (what I presume to be Native American, but I know next to nothing about mythology so lets just pretend I didn’t presume anything), fantasy, romance, and dystopia. Plainly put: I’m actually happy to have read a fantasy novel. (Take a look at my “tags” y’all. See much fantasy?)
This is the story of Cass, a teen whose mother is dead, whose father is a good and gentle man, whose twin brother is distant and scared of his own abilities (or lack thereof, at time). Cass isn’t too sure of herself either, but knows that she is destined to help others. So when her family moves to the Island to live with the other aboriginals, she is taken under the wing of the Island’s medicine woman, and she thrives. But she also finds out that she may be destined for something much more dark and evil.
This eloquently written novel is a twist on the contemporary dystopian in that it includes beautiful elements of mythology. The inclusion of the helpful yet cunning Raven, the harmful yet strong sisiutal, and the myriad other creatures that live in the spirit world but have control over certain aspects of the physical world, were intriguing enough to keep someone like me – someone who dislikes anything not of-this-world – interested.
Stars, he once told me, don’t cast shadows, but how can that be? Everything has a dark side.
I will recommend this book to young women who are strong but silent, like Cass. I think they will find a kindred soul in the very thoughtful, caring, and calculated Cass. Knuttson created an Island that I would love to visit, using terminology and imagery that were both advanced and classic. I’d love to know your thoughts on this novel, or if you have read anything similar to it.
Side note to the publisher: Good job on not toting this as a fantasy novel. I would not have read this had I known of all of the mythological elements. The synopsis reads like a dystopian, but the novel turns, quick and unforgiving, from dystopic to fantasy. Thanks for tricking me. 🙂