Review: The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade

The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade cover shows a girl's face partly obscured by flowers. A butterfly sits on her left eye.

The Shadow Sister
Lily Meade
Sourcebooks Fire
Published June 27, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Shadow Sister

Sutton going missing is the worst thing to happen to Casey, to their family. She’s trying to help find her sister, but Casey is furious. And she can’t tell anyone about their argument before Sutton disappeared. Everyone paints a picture of Sutton’s perfection: the popular cheerleader with an entourage of friends, a doting boyfriend, and a limitless future. But Sutton manipulated everyone around her, even stole an heirloom bracelet from Casey. People don’t look for missing Black girls–or half-Black girls–without believing there is an angel to be saved.

When Sutton reappears, Casey knows she should be relieved. Except Sutton isn’t the same. She remembers nothing about while she was gone—or anything from her old life, including how she made Casey miserable. There’s something unsettling about the way she wants to spend time with Casey, the way she hums and watches her goldfish swim for hours.

What happened to Sutton? The more Casey starts uncovering her sister’s secrets, the more questions she has. Did she really know her sister? Why is no one talking about the other girls who have gone missing in their area? And what will it take to uncover the truth?

The Shadow Sister on Goodreads

My Review

I love sister stories. I also love being part of the readership who discover a fantastic debut novel by an author who is sure to become a new favorite. It’s even better when those two things appear in the very same book.

First, let me say that the characters in this book are rich and layered. What they believe to be true isn’t always objectively true (happens to us all). I feel like writing a character who both comes across as genuine and genuinely wrong is really challenging, and Lily Meade makes it look absolutely effortless.

The rich themes of family, history, and reclaiming personal power are expertly threaded through the narrative of this book. I loved the way the characters explored family history and relationships. I also loved the elements of magical realism– again, something that I think is not easy to write in a way that feels believable and anchored in the real world. Yet it’s brilliantly done here.

I also really appreciated the author’s note and the care she takes in explaining her connection to some parts of the story. That only deepened my appreciation of the book, and I think added even more to the conversation within the text about intergenerational trauma and reclaiming power.

I’ve been super choosy about which books I’m adding to my shelves lately (my bookshelf runneth over!), but I will definitely be adding this one. I absolutely recommend this story for readers who, like me, love sister books or stories about family and the transformative power of love.

The Shadow Sister on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Casey and Sutton are biracial sisters. One minor character is a lesbian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used very sparingly.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Casey and Sutton’s family attends a local church that preaches, as one of the girls puts it, a “condescending prosperity gospel”.

Violent Content
Characters discover the decaying body of a murdered girl. A person admits to murdering someone and attempts to murder someone else.

Drug Content
Police suggest a recently missing girl was using drugs, even though her tests repeatedly show no drug use. An unconscious girl may have been drugged; it’s unclear.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of THE SHADOW SISTER in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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