Title: Shadows of the White City
Author: Jocelyn Green
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Copyright: February 2, 2021
Format: E-Book, 400 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction
The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.
Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.
From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?
Jocelyn Green’s “Shadows of the White City,” book two in the “Windy City Saga,” is a historical Christian novel set in Chicago, in 1893, during the excitement of the World’s Fair. Sylvie Townsend is a generous and loving woman who has run the family bookstore and taken care of her ailing father for years. When a Polish immigrant approaches her with his young daughter, Rozalia “Rose” Dabrowski, she agrees to raise the girl as her own.
As years pass, Sylvie and Rose have become like family to one another. Rose has grown up to become a beautiful young woman and Sylvie, like any mother, is protective of her adopted daughter. When Rose suddenly vanishes at the 1893 World’s Fair, Sylvie sets out to find her and enlists the help of Kristof Bartok, a tenant who lives in her building. Amidst the harrowing search, Sylvie cannot deny her growing attraction to the handsome Kristof.
This was my first time reading a novel by Ms Green and it was quite a ride. The beginning was slow but once Sylvie’s search for Rose started, I was hooked. This thread of mystery throughout the story was consistent and it kept things interesting. The overall tone was mysterious, ominous, and ultimately hopeful. The plot was well-developed but it was also pretty predictable. Nevertheless, it had me guessing all along.
The narrative and flow were strong. There was a good balance between showing versus telling. The dialogue and prose complemented each other to create a fairly cohesive reading experience. However, there were points where awkward word usage took me out of the story.
The characterization was good. Sylvie was human, believable, and easy to relate to. She was such a strong protagonist even though I found her frustrating at certain points. Rose, who was written well for the most part, came across as flat and unbelievable at times. She was the character I had the hardest time connecting with. Since there were a lot of characters, I had a difficult time keeping tracking of everyone.
This book was rife with rich, beautiful descriptions that I found compelling. Ms Green brought the 1893 World’s Fair to life and depicted such a fascinating setting for the story to take place. I think my favourite aspect of this book was the author’s passion for this time period and setting. Her interest in the World’s Fair really shined through the story and it made me enthusiastic to read it.
Ms Green included a wonderful Author’s Note that shed light on the history behind the World’s Fair, elaborating on historical figures and locales. She included a map of the 1893 World’s Fair and reader discussion questions, which was a great touch. While this book had some issues, I liked the story overall.
I graciously received this complimentary copy of “Shadows of the White City” by Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All ideas and thoughts expressed herein are my own. I received no remuneration for this review.