The Year of Shadows
Olivia Stellatella is a girl who has been abandoned by her mother. Her father relocated her and her grandmother to live in the old, worn down music hall where is is the maestro of the orchestra. Olivia likes to spend her time drawing, which was something her mother did with her before she left. She likes to play with a stray cat named Igor who is her only friend. When she discovers that the music hall is haunted by four ghosts, she realizes that she has to save the hall from being torn down in order to allow the ghosts to move on.
Having been abandoned and neglected, Olivia is constantly feeling lonely. She is a little caring, especially for Igor the cat. She shows this when Igor is being attacked by the ghosts, or shades. LeGrande shows this when she writes, "Too angry to be afraid, I pounded on the shades' arms. Each thud burned my fists and sizzled like meat on a grill. But I didn't care. They would not take Igor from me" (LeGrande 177). This shows that she is willing to experience pain in order to save Igor. Also the fact that she is willing to save the hall for the ghosts shows that she is a very helpful person despite her dark and lonely past.
LeGrande uses both setting and characterization to help advance the plot. The setting is very important because Olivia's main goal is to preserve that setting: the music hall. She says, "They were going to tear it down, and without it, my ghosts would be homeless. They'd be out in the world, alone and unprotected. And so would I" (LeGrande 269). The setting is essential to maintain as she and the ghosts would lose their home. Also, since Olivia is characterized as helpful and caring, she is able to decide to help the ghosts.
This book was very enjoyable. LeGrande included an interesting history for Olivia and her family. She used imagery and descriptive language to create a fascinating story. Though it is long, the book was very easy to read and it is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys mysteries and ghosts.