The Year of Shadows


THE YEAR OF SHADOWS - updated covertumblr | pinterest | goodreads | playlist | praise | extras & interviews

available now from Simon & Schuster BFYR

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Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother left, her neglectful father — the maestro of a failing orchestra — has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.

Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help — if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.

Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.

The Year of Shadows is a middle grade ghost story about loss, magic, music, and the power of friendship.


Praise for The Year of Shadows

As in The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (2012), Legrand shows twin knacks for creating creepy supernatural elements and thoroughly scary experiences for her central characters.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Legrand . . . has created a horror-tinged tale of triumph over loss and the destructive nature of hopelessness, that is full of well-rounded characters, a spooky gothic mood, and eerie glimpses into the past lives of the ghosts.” – Booklist

“The characters are well drawn; the specters are particularly appealing. At its heart, this not-too-scary ghost story is about relationships and repairing the hurt that people cause one another.” – School Library Journal

The blend of spooky but mostly harmless thrills, and family drama makes for a compelling storyline, and Olivia’s grief over her mother’s departure and her subsequent anger at her father are both realistic and relatable. Olivia is likable even at her snarkiest, and the ways in which she comes to care for the ghosts and even a few living people are sometimes touching. The secret behind the shade’s existence adds a bit of complexity to the missing mother story, and the happy ending feels well deserved for a central character who has had her fair share of sadness.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Claire Legrand’s fantastically spooky The Year of Shadows will keep you turning its pages well into the night, even though the floorboards are creaking and funny shapes lurk in the corner of your eye. Though we soon see that sometimes ghosts are the least of the things that haunt us, the book assures us that with spirit and hope we can create light in the most shadowy of places. Also, like all the best books, it has a really great cat.” – Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs and The Real Boy

A sad, happy, strange book, with some of the most memorable ghosts I’ve ever read. It’s full of shadows, but it’s also full of sparks and light and big, glowing scenes, and while it’ll break your heart more than once, it somehow manages to glue it all back together by the end. I loved it.Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar and The Whatnot

Dear, fellow readers. I needn’t have worried about a sophomore slump – because The Year of Shadows? It is all kinds of awesome. It’s awesome and powerful in a very different way than Cavendish; while there are ghosts and horrific elements, The Year of Shadows isn’t really a horror novel, per se. It’s a resonant book about love, and loss, and an angry, hurt girl caught in the middle of it all. And I freaking loved every second of it.” – The Book Smugglers

“Author Claire Legrand has a winning heroine in the tough-talking, internally fragile Olivia, whose sarcastic narrative voice is engaging and emotionally real as she makes many unexpected discoveries and survives harrowing adventures.”Common Sense Media

Legrand’s expert writing goes straight through the flesh, the bones, and the heart.” – The Midnight Garden

It’s a novel full of magic, mystery, life, and family. If you enjoy MG novels with a dark vibe that manages to be both sad and beautiful, this is one you should put on your list!” – Xpresso Reads

Claire Legrand’s sophomore novel features lovely writing, both sassy and creepy ghosts, and a heartwarming tale of learning to let people in.” – YA Books Central

Any book that handles loss and longing as beautifully as this book deserves to be read.” – Bookshelvers Anonymous

What a lovely surprise this book is. . . . Even now, having read it, I still find it defies easy categorization, but I can tell you this: this story made me smile and made me cry, and just owned me start to finish. A lovely, lovely story.” – BookYurt

Olivia’s journey to healing, forgiving and understanding is a marvelous spooky time!” – Northshire Bookstore


My Year of Shadows Playlist

Music is a huge part of my writing process — especially film scores.

While outlining and drafting, I compile a playlist that follows the story scene-by-scene, basically providing me with a musical template as a foundation for the actual writing.

Below, you’ll find a few selections from my playlist for The Year of Shadows. I hope discovering this music gives you a richer sense of the story!


“The Smallest Piece” from Beasts of the Southern Wild by Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin

“Cliffs” from Where the Wild Things Are by Karen O and the Kids

“Forgery” from Year of the Dog by Christophe Beck

“To the Quarry” from Trick ‘r’ Treat by Douglas Pipes

“Ikea” from 500 Days of Summer by Mychael Danna & Rob Simonsen

“The Imaginarium” from The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus by Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna

“Sailing” from Where the Wild Things Are by Carter Burwell

“Collecting Things” from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Jon Brion

“Flours” from Stranger Than Fiction by Britt Daniel & Brian Reitzell

“The Red Queen” from Phoebe in Wonderland by Christophe Beck

“Fifteen Dogs, One Car” from Year of the Dog by Christophe Beck

“The Chimney” from Monster House by Douglas Pipes

“Charles” from The Others by Alejandro Amenabár

“The Dance” from Monster House by Douglas Pipes

“The Lights Went Out in Manchester” from United by Clint Mansell

“Peer Pressure” from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Jon Brion

And last but certainly not least, the fifth and final movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “The Resurrection,” which plays an important musical role in The Year of Shadows:

If you are interested in learning more about the classical music featured in The Year of Shadows, check out the author’s note at the back of the book!


Extras & Interviews

A post about why I believe in ghosts and how that influenced The Year of Shadows

An interview with the main character of The Year of Shadows, Olivia Stellatella, and her friend Henry Page

All about my musical past and how it continues to influence me as a writer — including clips from college brass quintet!

Insights into some of my favorite tracks from my Year of Shadows playlist, and how they helped me write the book here, here, and here

An adventurous story-interview in which I whisk the interviewer away to the world of The Year of Shadows — where she meets characters from the book! I also talk about my inspiration for The Year of Shadows, possession, and my artistic abilities

Here I discuss various literary elements in The Year of Shadows, including setting, characterization, and language — a great post for teachers, librarians, parents, and students!

My brilliant editor Zareen Jaffery and I interview each other about The Year of Shadows and the writing/editing life

An in-depth interview with questions specifically geared toward teachers, parents, librarians, and readers

Images from my virtual inspiration board for The Year of Shadows

How I named the characters of The Year of Shadows

Why I write books for children, with specific mention of The Year of Shadows

A behind-the-scenes look at the Year of Shadows revision process

An interview with Year of Shadows illustrator Karl Kwasny

How I selected the orchestral music featured in The Year of Shadows — and what they mean in relation to the book’s plot and themes!