When Shadows Fall is the story of three friends – Kai, Orla and Om who grow up together in a block of flats in London but spend most of their time in their secret hideaway discovered in the surrounding Greenlands. When Kai’s family suffer a devastating loss, a series of events ensue leading him to spiral out of control, affecting everyone around him. With the help of his friends, he must piece his life back to together again if he has any chance of surviving.
Nature and the lives of each character are deeply intertwined in this story to the point where the ravens become an integral part of the story – they see everything and understand more than anyone is aware of at the time. The illustrations and poetic language are woven together so beautifully, allowing the reader to become completely immersed in the story.
This is one of the most powerful and moving books that I have read for a long time. Shadows fall for all of us at some point in our lives – no matter what age we are. Not only is this story a beautiful reminder of the power of friendship in helping to lift those shadows, but it also invites the reader into a world where solace is found in music, art, drama and nature. For the characters, this provides an escape from the burdens of life that all too readily weigh them down; for the reader, it presents the opportunity to look for the ‘in between notes,’ to reach deep within themselves and to find their voice.
‘Every one of us deserves to fly.’
When Shadows Fall would be well placed in a secondary school library although I would recommend it for older students, Year 9 onwards. The book touches on some hard-hitting issues such as the loss of a child, suicide and the plight of refugees, thus providing some excellent talking points for group discussions, in a safe space. As always, it is important that it is read first before recommending it to individual children.
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