Jumping at Shadows

Rated 4.70/5 based on 10 reviews
When Belle discovers the secret of a family heirloom, she and her friend Rosy are propelled into a world of the shadows—the same shadows that have been haunting Belle all her life. Soon Belle realises that the future rests in her hands, and only she can keep the magic of her ancestors from falling into the clutches of a dangerous mad man. More

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Words: 48,830
Language: Commonwealth English
ISBN: 9781476096117
About Helen A. Howell

Helen is a fiction writer, who writes in several genres which include fantasy, noir, horror and humour. She has written several short stories, flash fictions, poems and completed her first novel, a children’s fantasy fiction. Her work has appeared in e-zines as well as in print. She is a member of Friday Flash Dot Org. and is a regular participant in writing Friday Flash.

On Feb. 21st 2013 her new Novella I Know You Know - a psychic thriller for adults was released by Crooked Cat Publishing.

In January 2014 her new Novella Mind Noise was released by Crooked Cat Publishing.

You can find her blog at http://helenahowell.blogspot.com.au and find her on Twitter @Helenscribbles

Also by This Author


Review by: Michael Tate on Sep. 22, 2012 :
“Jumping at Shadows” by Helen Howell is a cute fantasy novella about a young girl named Belle and her friend Rosy who discover that an heirloom passed down in Belle's family has the power to allow them to teleport. But when they teleport to the strange world her ancestors are from, they find themselves in the middle of a power struggle of the highest order over the heirloom.

While this book is aimed at the YA or even MG market, and has the perfect voice for it, it came across as a solid and entertaining story for me, a guy who normally reads epic SF or literary fiction. And what it was that made it so was that it had a very unique and warm voice that made the story feel as though it was being told by a grandmother to her own granddaughters fifty years after the fact around a warm fire in a cabin by the lake. And there I was, sitting cross legged on the floor with my hands folded in my lap, silent, as the story progressed.

And even though many of the plot elements fit right in with YA and MG works, they also had a real sense of maturity much like many of the Disney movies nowadays are on the surface made for the kids, but with themes and complexities that give the adults watching their own personal level of enjoyment.

Yet what is even more amazing about it is how much detail and well scripted dialogue is peppered throughout the book, which is able to create a vivid picture of the story while not becoming overwhelming for a younger reader. Even now, three weeks after I finished reading the book, I can still picture many of the settings and characters which is in my opinion quite the accomplishment.

The only thing I think this book lacked however, was consistency with the point of view. There were some instances of head-hopping, but nothing too severe except for in two cases I remember where I was temporarily pulled out of the story. But that is getting nit-picky, especially considering this is something I see in many works supposedly looked over by professional editors. (Oh, and no typos that I caught either, which is a testament to the work in editing Helen has put in.)

Overall, I give “Jumping at Shadows” 4.5/5 stars. I highly recommend it, especially if you have a short two hour plane ride somewhere and want to read a good story cover to cover, or just to have something to read at night or really where ever. But more importantly, it has helped to restore my massively shattered faith in the self-publishing world. It turns out there really are good books out there!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Katherine Hajer on Sep. 16, 2012 :
Jumping at Shadows is a fantasy novella for ages 8 and up, written by Helen Howell.

Belle and her best friend Rosy are fourteen, and endure the taunts of the local "mean girls" on a daily basis. The girls tease Rosy for her looks (and her refusal to give in to their bullying), but they are mean to Belle because she's different. She claims to be able to see shadow-people that no one else besides her mother and grandmother can see, a trait inherited in her family along the female line.

That ability, plus some related parts of Belle's family legacy, leads to discovery and adventure for both girls.

I've been reading Howell's flash and serial fiction on-line for a while now, so was very curious to see how she handled a longer work. Jumping at Shadows has a gentle beginning that establishes the main players well, so when the action starts to build the reader is already comfortable with which character is which.

The way that action builds, steadily and with increasing weight to each move the characters make, is the book's best strength. I read the book over a couple of weeks because of a wonky work schedule, and I found that it was difficult to say to myself, "Okay, stop at the end of this chapter and go get the chores done!"

Since it is a fantasy adventure, there are a certain amount of scary scenes, but Howell defuses these before they go over the top, yet without easing the dramatic tension. As a former kid (and present adult) who hates it when characters "get into trouble", I appreciated how deftly these scenes were handled. It definitely makes the book more accessible for the younger set, but without ruining it for older readers.

The one thing I missed from Jumping at Shadows was a better idea of when and where Belle's and Rosy's home was. To be fair, most of the story takes place elsewhere.

Recommended for anyone who likes fantasy written with a light, sure hand.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Paul Dean on Sep. 14, 2012 :
Jumping at Shadows is a truly delightful read. Helen’s tale is of two young girls who set out accidently on a quest into an unknown world of mystery, magic and intrigue. The characters are loveable and identifiable for those of the same age or for those of us reminiscing our own childhood. Helen’s crisp style of writing makes the story fast moving and captivating. Her way of giving the reader just enough information to let their own imagination sore and thereby being able to have some personal ownership of the story is a rare gift.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Chloe on Sep. 13, 2012 :
I really enjoyed this story! There were plenty of original ideas,and the writing style is easy to read without being simplistic or formulaic.

The main characters are great role models for modern women of all ages - independent and strong, yet also supportive of one another, acknowledging the benefits of having good friends.

Looking forward to the next one...
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Corrine Kenner on Sep. 12, 2012 :
Jumping at Shadows is a fantasy story that will captivate readers of every age -- whether they're 9 or 90.

The heroine, Belle, is spunky and brave. More importantly, she's also true to life. When she's thrust into danger, she keeps her head, and she behaves like a real girl -- although she's admittedly a very smart, clever girl.

At the same time, her loyal and trustworthy friend Rosy makes a charming companion. I'd like to be as ingenious as either one of them -- and I'd like my daughters to picture themselves like that, too. I suppose you could call it a feminist story, but it's not cloying or politically correct in any way. It's just a compelling, fast-moving adventure about two fascinating characters who happen to be girls.

Howell has a gift for crafting description. Belle and Rosy's world of shadows might be magical and mysterious, but Howell's descriptions make it real and believable.

Howell also has developed an understated talent for dialogue; the conversations move quickly, and the characters' discussions make them even more intriguing.

That being said, I think the one of the things I admire most about Howell's creativity is a detail: her characters have very clever names. The evil ruler Madgar, for example, comes vividly to life every time his name appears in print. In that respect, Howell's work is a lot like J. K. Rowling's.

Jumping at Shadows is definitely a page turner. The drama and tension build higher and higher as the adventure unfolds, making the story impossible to put down. I read it in a single sitting -- and I almost wish it had moved a little more slowly, so I could have savored it longer!

I give it five stars.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Chuck Allen on Sep. 07, 2012 :
A review by Kristy Allen:

Jumping at Shadows took me on an unexpected adventure. It made me feel as if I were on a magical journey with the two girls. A very good read!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Cathy Olliffe-Webster on Aug. 12, 2012 :
Author Helen Howell has such a charming 'voice' in this book that Jumping at Shadows is remarkably hard to put down. The two youngsters who 'jump' from adventure to adventure are funny and sweet (but not too sweet) and manage to ingratiate themselves with the reader as their story picks up steam.

What young girl doesn't dream of travelling to faraway and imaginary lands where magic rules and evil lurks around every corner; a place where spunk and bravery can rule the day and the bad guy may not stand a chance against the righteous energy of a cheerful twosome.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jumping at Shadows. I think it's the perfect read for any young girl between the ages of eight and 13. (And how I wish I fit into that age category ... sigh...)
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Larry Kollar on Aug. 04, 2012 :
I'm glad to say I had the opportunity to beta-read Jumping at Shadows last year. It was a fun read then, and it has only improved since. It made me think of a Hallmark Special, and I could almost hear the accents of the English girls as I read, except that Hallmark Specials don't often feature parallel worlds and magic. And there's some real grit in this story, don't let my comparison make you think it's all happy-sappy.

Belle and Rosy are charming girls, on the edge of adolescence, not yet interested in boys. Until they stumble across the missing pieces to Belle's family heirloom, their main concern in life is dodging the mean girl, Shelly. Their independence, I think, is what really makes them stand out. When they discover a way to travel to the world where Belle's shadows come from, they don't bother telling their parents — they seize the opportunity and run with it.

When the story really got rolling, I kept thinking about Clarke's Law — "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" — because I was never quite sure which it was. For example, a "wishing stone" would provide you the item you desired, but by taking it from somewhere (or someone) else. Maybe that's where the dryer socks go? It had reciprocal properties, allowing you to wish something gone, and that's an important part of the story. If it was truly magic, it was a rigidly logical kind of magic, one that makes a lot more sense than most magic "systems" in fiction. The ambiguity works in the story's favor, at least for me. One could argue that Jumping at Shadows is fantasy or soft sci-fi, and I think it works for fans of either genre.

The character development in this was so good, I never really gave much thought to a young girl bearding the power-mad wizard in his own den. The assets that Belle gathers along the way were truly made for her, and she has no problem using them to help her friends.

The author categorized it as a "children's book," but it's a good one for all ages. Check it out!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Scotti Cohn on July 27, 2012 :
The Prologue to Jumping at Shadows alerts us to the fact that mystical, magical activities are certain to play an important role in this story. We meet a girl named Therina and her father, Rhubost. Their home is in a land unlike any we might encounter in our world.

Soon we are also introduced to Belle and Rosy, young girls and best friends, whose way of life is much more familiar to us. Their main concern is avoiding the school bully. Of course, Belle also sees shadows. But so far they have not interfered with her life. It's just one of those things that runs in her family.

Belle and Rosy's relatively normal status quo changes when the line between their world and Therina's begins to blur more frequently and more dramatically. A crystal hemisphere handed down to Belle through the women in her family turns out to be much more than an unusual decoration.

Helen Howell's ability to tell a good story is abundantly evident in Jumping at Shadows, along with her natural instinct for dialogue and detail. Two radically different worlds are skillfully woven together, complete with fascinating characters, critters, and creations. The book is intended for children age 9 or 10 and up, as well as adults like me who enjoy Middle Grade fantasy.

What ever became of Therina? Who are the shadows that follow Belle? Who will save Therina's world from the evil Madgar? What in the world is a Par-Rip?

I'll never tell. You'll have to read Jumping at Shadows to find out. Enjoy the journey! It's well worth your time.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Tom Gillespie on July 17, 2012 :
For a while now, I have been reading and enjoying Helen Howell’s brilliant adult-themed short stories and works of flash fiction that frequently delve into the darker underside of human nature. But her latest release, Jumping at Shadows marks a delightful and unexpected shift in style and genre, and illustrates the versatility of Helen’s exceptional creative abilities.

Jumping at Shadows is a beautifully written fantasy aimed at kids of all ages. It is a story about a friendship between two girls Belle and Rosie, who find themeselves propelled into a world of the shadows, and battling with the evil Madgar to save themselves and their world from destruction.

The story is highly imaginative, magical and smart, and rips along at a cracking pace. Helen has created two beautifully realised worlds, with believable characters that come together in an inventive and cleverly structured way. As the story unfolds, the suspense and intrigue grows, with one cliffhanger and nail-biting episode following the next, culminating in a brilliant showdown and climax that leaves room for a sequal.

Jumping at Shadows includes just the right mix of supernatural mystery, humour and pantomime scariness to amaze and delight young readers who have grown up on a staple diet of Harry Potter, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and other great fantasy stories.

So, all in all, Helen Howell has created a modern classic that will enthrall children and the young at heart for many years to come. She is indeed a very talented and magical yarn spinner.

Ist Class.. 5 stars!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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