Book Review: Among the Shadows

Whew! I better get to reviewing my Halloween reads, or it’ll be useless, at least for you this year. While I’ve already given my list of recommendations, I have read a few new books and watched a few new movies this year, expanding on my same-old.

Cover image from

I travelled a few weeks back. It was in some ways against my better judgement, at least as a cautious, pandemic-restriction-abiding citizen, but it was an important moment for me to do it, anyways. One of my best friends, from college, was getting married. I had meant to visit her for twenty years and had also been waiting for this wedding for twenty years. While I felt at first like I couldn’t go, my other best friend sent me an email and said, “Darn this pandemic! Let’s do it together.” So I did. (Personal note: so glad that I did. It was important and wonderful, though shadowed some by the state of everything and also the brevity warranted by the same state of everything.) I did do a little mental hyperventilating on the four planes it took to get to St. Louis, but part of my strategy was to get a window seat and bury my double-masked nose and goggled-eyes in a book. October? Halloween reading.

The book I finished on the flights (and in the airports) was a tad bit embarrassing. I don’t embarrass easy, so when I do, I shake it off and try to be me without apologizing. However, the cover on this one doesn’t read “Devon,” so I tended to hide the cover or at least some of the cover under my hand. It just looks like some sort of cheesy, romance, trade paperback. What is it, actually, if not a cheesy romance? It’s a book of short stories, first of all. The cover is old fashioned and meant for teenage girls, but the “dark-side” short stories inside are by none other than L. M. Montgomery. Yes, the author of Anne of Green Gables. Which means that the stories aren’t super spooky and definitely not gory. Some of them are ghost stories, some of them are about the darker elements, like criminals and crimes. In other words, it’s all the darkest of Montgomery’s stories, which tend to be lighter, airier, and downright wholesome.

These stories are still basically wholesome and, having been written in Canada in the 1800s to early 1900s, still old-fashioned. If this is your style, then this is a good find for you, because it’s much easier to come by grit and bleakness, gore and screams, for your October reading. This is softer and sweeter, but still has small creeps and, mostly, a discordant note playing in the background, giving Montgomery’s usual stories an eerie twist. (Not that her stories are saccharine—they have sadness, complexity, tension and small-town adventure in scads. And not that none of her novels have that eerie note: the Emily of New Moon series is a little darker than the usual.) On the down-side, if you are familiar with Montgomery’s story-telling, there are going to be few surprises here and there are whole lines that were pulled for use in her novels. Then again, maybe you are comfortable in that world.

As in all of Montgomery’s writing, the stories are well-written and the characters and lives are engaging. It’s simply a matter of style. Do you enjoy short stories? Do you like old-fashioned tales from a simpler time and place? Then this is your October read.


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