When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter
Summary from GoodReads:
Dashiell Bohnacker was hell on his family while he was alive. But it’s even worse now that he’s dead…
Ruby. Haunted by her dead brother, unable to let him go, Ruby must figure out whether his nightly appearances in her dreams are the answer to her prayers—or a nightmare come true…
Everett. He’s always been jealous of his dashing older brother. Now Everett must do everything he can to save his twin sister Ruby from Dashiell’s clutches.
Dashiell. Charming, handsome, and manipulative, Dash has run afoul of some very powerful forces in the Land of the Dead. His only bargaining chips are Ruby and Everett. At stake is the very survival of the Bohnacker family, bodies and souls…
That cover and title really sets the mood for this book. It is creepy and dark and at times a little bit scary. This is a hard review to do without spoiling anything, but I will give it my best shot. It is a very character driven narrative so I will focus on them.
Let’s start with Ruby. She was a hard character to like, but at times I felt very sorry for her. She was hard to like because of her relationship with Dashiell, it was just so damaging to both of them. She went a bit beyond idolizing her older brother almost to the point of being obsessed and kind of stalkery. I get that when you have a sibling that is hell bent on destroying themselves that you want to help them, but at some point you have to decide that enough is enough. Ruby makes some very bad choices throughout the book, but I did get her reasons for doing what she did.
Everett was a different character all together. While he liked his brother he saw him for the manipulative and dangerous person that he truly was. Everett was the most sane of the trio, but he still allows Dashiell to control him. His justification that he is protecting the ones he loves is valid, but still a little twisted and dysfunctional. He is the strongest of the three though and he is the one that I ended up thinking was the hero of the story.
I hated Dashiell throughout most of the book. He is manipulative, a liar, and very self-centered. He doesn’t care that his actions hurts the people he supposedly loves as long as he gets what he wants. But, when we find out the reasons behind why he does what he does in this book, my dislike of him became a little less. He did show some growth in trying to set something right and keeping his brother and sister safe. There was also some closure between him and his father and that scene was interesting and bittersweet. By the end of the book I felt sorry for Dashiell and almost shed a tear for him.
The story is mostly told through the three siblings, but there are some other characters that help tell the story. There is Paige, Dashiell’s girlfriend, who is just as manipulative and deceitful as he is. Elena, Everett’s crush, she is a great character that I wish we saw more of. Even when faced with something totally unbelievable, she is willing to help save both Everett and Ruby. Finally the Bohnacker’s dad rounds out the dysfunctional family. I felt the most sympathy for him. He so wanted to help Dashiell before he dies, but could see how it was destroying his family and so had to use tough love in the hopes that it would save Dashiell.
There are a couple of ghostly characters that also come into play. Mabel is a young ghost girl who just wants to live a normal life, and will do anything to get a new body. Aloysius, the ghost that runs the Borderlands, and is really creepy and evil. He is the one that really wants to destroy the siblings by any means. He is also the reason behind Dashiell’s actions through out most of the book.
Most of the book takes place in New York City, but there are very creepy scenes that take place in a nightmarish place called the Borderlands. This is where the ghosts that can’t move on reside and it is a really dark and dangerous place to the living. The ghosts can only take shape when someone living comes there in their dreams, but some of the things that the ghosts become are twisted and disturbing. Not a place I wish to visit any time soon.
There was one minor thing that irked me through out the book, the siblings nicknames for each other. Dashiell called his brother Never Ever and his sister either Ruby Slippers or Ru-Ru (which I really hated). Dashiell’s nick name was Dash Dot Dot which just didn’t flow very well in my mind. They all used these names more than they used their real names and it just sort of irked me. But it didn’t take away from the story in any way.
The ending while good, left me wanting a little bit more. I wanted to know what happened to all of the characters, and although we get a glimpse of the future it still left me feeling the need for more closure.
Overall a very dark and nightmarish read. Good for a cold, dark autumn night.