When I Cast Your Shadow: A Novel - Sarah Porter

This was nothing like what I was expecting. At all. I can't emphasize that enough. I thought this would be an interesting story about ghosts and new take on what happens when someone dies. At the very least, I thought there would be a kind of family theme going on since the blurb leads me to believe it's going to be all about family. If I could sum up this book, I would have to just say that it's weird. I don't know what else I could possibly say because honestly I'm not sure what I just read. 



One of the most confusing things about this book is definitely the plot. For the first half of the book, it's entirely Dashiell possessing Ruby and Everett for what seems like no reason at all. There's no explanation for why any of this is happening. There's also a villain of the story, but his motives are really muddled and ultimately don't make that much sense. Why bother going through so much trouble over one family? What was the goal of possessing Everett and Ruby? Just to possess them? Yeah Aloysius was evil and a bad person, but his character lacked any depth or emotion. There's no story to why he's bad, he's just that way because he's the villain.


There characters felt like a mess to me, primarily because they lack human reactions and reasoning skills. None of the characters really seemed that surprised that it's possible for a ghost to possess a living body. Everett does at the beginning, but it doesn't last very long. Not only is there a lack of surprise or disbelief from any of the characters, but all of them fail to have the normal reaction of running away screaming when you hear a dead man talking through a sixteen year old girl or at least trying to commit said girl to an insane asylum. I felt no connection to them. I didn't care if they lived or died because they weren't realistic enough. There were many different points of view and characters thrown into the story, but the side characters felt like props and I didn't understand why there were so many points of view. Two or three max would have worked better in my opinion.


The romance was cringe worthy and not just because there was some incest going on. Everett and Ruby both have terrible self images. Neither believes that anyone pays any attention to them, Everett even more than Ruby. But wait, turns out that a girl that Everett likes has been secretly in love with him for what seems to be no reason at all, other than to make him feel good about himself. There's also a very weird scene, that could possibly be considered rape because the woman involved thought she was having sex with someone, but that person was being possessed. This is discussed very briefly by the person who's body was used by the ghost, but eventually it's pushed to the side. I found the whole situation quite uncomfortable. Then there's the incest that I had mistaken for sibling love, but oh was I wrong.


One of my biggest issues when it comes to writing is when an author tells instead of shows. I felt like there was a lot of that in this book. It made it difficult to imagine certain scenes and characters. The reader is told that Dash is loved by everyone and basically perfect, aside from his drug addiction. I didn't see a reason for Ruby to trust or love Dash as much as she does. I actually thought there were more reasons for her to do the exact opposite. I would have liked to see more descriptions and maybe some more flashbacks to good times with Dash and his siblings in order for me to become invested in the story. 


I thought the idea behind this book was really interesting and that's why I wanted to read this in the first place, but the execution was all off. This just wasn't for me. It was too weird and for a primarily character driven novel, the characters weren't likable. 


*I received this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review