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Reviewed by Dusty Borlase
Opening sentence
Before I tell you a story most adults won’t, there’s something I must confess: I’m homeless.
Twelve-year-old Faye Delaney looks after other people’s homes in the South Island of New Zealand. Faye is good with animals, a result of her many farm sits, so she is interested when she keeps hearing rumours of “big cats.” Curiosity, and perhaps a little fear, makes her (as well as the reader) wonder “are they even ‘Big Cats’?” She goes on a mission to find out what it’s all about.

Shadow Chaser had me wondering what was coming next at all stages throughout Faye’s big cat adventure. Angela Armstrong is good at keeping the reader interested at all times, a good example from the book is: 
 “This morning, we’ll feed calves, horses, goats, and sheep, while Mum says, “can you believe this view?” over and over and I jump off and open and close gates over and over. Mums right, though. It is pretty nice – all of these animals and all this space, surrounded by snow capped peaks. It's more than nice actually. It's special. Thing is, none of it's ours.  Not the view, not the farm, not the animals, not even the Red Bands we’re wearing.” 

Paragraphs like this throughout the book had me wondering why: why is none of it theirs? The style kept me reading to find out. 

The point of an opening sentence is to make you want to read more. “Before I tell you a story most adults won’t, there’s something I must confess: I’m homeless.” Is the opening sentence of this story. Faye isn’t actually “homeless”. Not in the way that you’d think, anyway.

At the start of the book, Angela explains that Faye doesn’t live on the streets, in her car, or move out of her country, but looks after other people’s home for them while the real owners go away on a holiday. Through this, Faye’s family are saving up for there forever home.

I chose this book because I had heard from a friend that it was quite good, and Angela Armstrong had taught me in a writing group and had told me a bit of what it was about. Aside from that, the stunning cover with its mountains, a lake, and a sunset (all of which are beautiful) caught my eye even before I read the author’s name.

Shadow Chaser was smaller than I had expected, it had small chapters, and I got through the book in about two days. I liked that Angela had mixed fantasy with some real things that makes the story seem like it could come true. For example, there have been sightings of panthers in the South Island. Similar styled books are, A Waltz For Matilda, by Jackie French, or Kiwis At War (by multiple authors). Both are also fantasy in the real world, or a mix of true facts and fiction.

I would recommend this book to people who like short novels and a mix of fantasy and fiction.

- Dusty is 12 and lives in Whangarei.
ISBN: 979-8394514548
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 12+
Themes: Family, Adventure, Middle-grade.