Release date: 5 September 2023
Synopsis: Radcliffe Prep. The third most haunted school in the country, where a student disappearance isn’t uncommon and no one dares stay in the library after dark. And Este Logano enrolls with the hopes of finding her dead father.
Not literally, of course. She doesn’t believe in ghosts. Going to her dad’s school just seems like her best hope at figuring out who he was.
But then Este meets Mateo, who is maybe—probably—definitely—a real ghost. And an annoying one at that.
When Mateo frames Este for the theft of a rare book from the library’s secret spire and then vanishes, Este will have to track him down or risk being expelled and leaving Radcliffe early just like her father did.
Except following her father’s footsteps might be more dangerous than Este ever anticipated. As she investigates the library with its secret passageways, hidden tunnels, and haunted halls, she learns that the student disappearances aren’t just myth. And if she isn’t careful, she’ll be next.
I’m not sure why this book isn’t being featured in a box. It’s a debut. It’s a spooky read set in a library. It’s dark academia. It’s everything a Spooky September selection book should be. Nevertheless, it is not in an upcoming book box. I’m perplexed. Anywho, onto the review.
If you love school setting spooky reads with cute ghost crushes and ghostly mysteries, this is a read for you. It gives off serious Wednesday vibes with a touch of Casper and a hint of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Este Logano loses her father not too long before the events of the book start, so she enrolls in spooky Radcliffe Prep to feel closer to him and follow in his footsteps. With her mother grieving and coping by indulging a serious case of neglectful wanderlust, the residential prep school is perfect for both their needs and, of course, the events of our story.
Library of Shadows got off to a bit of a rocky start for me. The dialogue was juvenile and the scenes didn’t quite transition well from one to another. By about the 4th or 5th chapter, though, the kinks ironed themselves out (mostly), and I got into a bit of a reading groove. I’m pretty picky with my spooky books, and I need bit more atmosphere to propel me through the plot easier than it did here. It’s certainly set in a haunted school with a library full of ghosts, but I didn’t feel the spook when I was reading it. Despite this, the characters, especially the supporting characters, were endearing and their interactions with Este made the book more enjoyable for me.
On a brighter note, Moore weaves a pretty good plot twist, which I saw coming, but the gem of this book shines when the characters interact. I absolutely loved Este’s roommate and her ragtag group of ghost hunters. They provided great banter and levity, which I automatically love in a book no matter what. It’s nothing overly brilliant, but it is enough to carry a stuttering pace and prop up a need for some more edits to really make the book shine.
For a YA book, this one was relatively clean for what’s currently offered on the traditional pub circuit. It does have some adult language (including the f-bomb) and a bit of adult content toward the end of the book, but it didn’t get too spicy for the age range. Despite that, I definitely recommend it for the older range of the YA market, 17 and up, because of this.
My thanks to NetGalley, HarperCollins, and Katherine Tegen Books for the eARC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.