Shadows of the White City

It’s a cloudy spring day here in Kentucky and I’m sitting by my open door with rapidly cooling coffee, singing birds, and peaceful piano music. The perfect setting for sharing my favorite read of 2021 with y’all, right?

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Title: Shadows of the White City
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

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?

Why I Choose this Book

 Will I ever not want to read a Jocelyn Green book ASAP? Probably not. Her writing is beautiful, and even if I don’t like the setting or plot, I still enjoy how she weaves the storyline so convincingly and pulls me into the book. 

What I Thought about the Book

The first book in the saga – Veiled in Smoke – was set in a place that I don’t enjoy reading about (Chicago), during a time period I don’t like reading about (the Great Fire), and yet I still ended up enjoying the book because Jocelyn’s writing is amazing. Going into Shadows of the White City I expected some of the same, aka, not enjoying the setting but being wrapped up in the writing. 

But, ohhh, was I wrong. This story may have changed my mind about books that are set in Chicago because I enjoyed it so thoroughly it gave me a new appreciation for the city. It takes place in 1893 during the World’s Fair, and was incredibly interesting to read about. Jocelyn does a fantastic job of weaving historical facts into her stories without making it feel like she’s cramming information into her books. For instance, in this book, one of the main characters gave tours at the World Fair, and sometimes we as the reader got to go along and experience it with the guests. Such a brilliant way to write the cool facts into the story.

Not only did we get to see the intriguing setting of the World’s Fair, but there was a compelling plotline and interesting, and multi-layered characters to round out the reading experience. At the beginning of the book, I was a bit unsure of how I would enjoy the large time gap between Veiled in Smoke and this one, but Jocelyn pulled it off magnificently well and wrote a book whose main character was a middle-aged woman in such a way that she felt relatable. 

There weren’t any characters whose point-of-view I disliked reading from, which is rare for me when it comes to a book with multiple POV. Each of the characters who we got to follow had compelling stories – from Sylvie with her need for control to Rose with her hunger for answers. Kristof was delightful and sweet and I could feel his pain as he tried to figure out the correct way to be a good brother. 

The exploration of lost and pieced together families, cultures colliding, the danger of the era, and a lack of answers kept me from putting down the book. I wanted to read more, more, more. When I got to the end of the story and all the pieces had slid into place I was thankful that I’d gotten to go along for the literary adventure. It’s my current favorite of 2021.

Conclusion 

This book is the second one in the saga, but it can easily be read first or as a standalone. (If reading it first, it will give a few spoilers.) I enjoyed the story a lot and can’t wait to read Jocelyn’s next release.  

Rating 

I’m giving Shadows of the White City 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of the book so I could post this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

14 Clean Fiction Book Recommendations

What is the loveliness I bring to you today, my friends? Fourteen delightful fiction book recommendations. Why did I choose the number fourteen? Quite simply because that gives you one book to read each day for the next two weeks. 😉

I’m going to attempt to have an order with these books, going from my 14th favorite, all the way up to the one that I’d push into your hands with delightful squeals if I could.

Okay, Lydia from the future here: I had no clue how long it would take me to try and pick 14 of my favorite fiction books. Add in trying to put them in order from least to favorite? Well, this has been a two-day project, but I’m pretty excited about how it turned out. I scrolled through hundreds of books I’ve read to pick which gems to share with you, and it was a delightful trip down memory lane.

If you’ve read any of these books – or end up reading them after browsing this post – I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts. Blessings!

14. The Hope of Azure Springs 
Read my review here. 

This book was a refreshing break from the all-too-familiar beautiful main characters that are so prevalent in fiction. I’m not very familiar with this author, but I look forward to reading more of her books.

13. Secrets She Kept
Read my review here. 

Cathy Gohlke is an author who doesn’t disappoint. I had a hard time choosing which of her books to put on this list – she yanks her readers into history and makes tedious tasks come alive. I chose this book because although I normally don’t like reading books with different timelines, she pulled it off perfectly. 

12. All Fall Down
Read my review here. (This book is representing a trilogy.)
The first time I read the trilogy I wasn’t sure what to think (as you’d see if you read my review), but then about a year later I listened to the trilogy and was blown away by how much I had missed during my first read. There are various parts of the story I don’t condone, but it’s brilliantly executed and the characters are incredibly flawed in the best of ways.

11. Rock Harbor Mystery Collection 
(This is representing a whole series.) 

Colleen Coble’s books fall into two categories for me: Either they’re too mysterious (or creepy, scary, etc…) so I don’t read them, or else they pull me in like crazy and have the best characters ever. I listen to most of her books vs. reading them, and I’ve felt like I’ve gotten to know her characters and settings so well. Most of her books that I’ve read interconnect at some point or another, and I’m excited and delighted by that.

10. Between Two Shores
Read my review here

Hello, plot twist. This was another author who I had a hard time choosing which book to put on my list. Her research is so thorough I always learn something intriguingly new while reading her books. I chose this book because there was a plot twist in it that I’ve never seen in Christian historical fiction, and it made my mouth literally dropped open when I got to it.

9. Counted with the Stars
Read my review here. (This book is representing a trilogy.)

I call Connilyn Cossette Queen of Biblical Fiction and that’s not a title I give lightly. She’s the only author who has all of her books represented (two series) on this list.

8. Thief of Corinth

I’d pull this book out right now for a re-read if I hadn’t lent it to someone. The storyline is compelling, the characters are frustratingly real, the twists and turns in the plot are exciting, and the writing is excellent.

7. The Lost Girl of Astor Street 
Read my review here.

Not only is the cover gorgeous, but the story is, too. The world-building is so well crafted that you’ll be sucked into the story and won’t want to emerge. It’s a slow-paced mystery with an emphasis on the characters, which is my favorite type of read. I own both the hardcover and ebook versions of this book, have given it as a gift, and recommend it often.

6. Thicker than Blood
(This book is representing a series.)

This series I randomly stumbled upon on kindle about six years ago. It combines all the elements you can think of to make a fantastic story, including characters who make me want to help them and yell at them and beg them to make the right decisions all at the same time.

5.The Number of Love
Read my review here. 

Espionage is my favorite trope in books. Books that take place during WW1 hold a very special place in my heart. And, characters who are brilliant (and yet obviously flawed) are incredibly entertaining. The Number of Love combines those three elements perfectly.  This story is so skillfully written that as soon as I finished reading it I lent it out so others could be as delighted as me. It was by far one of my favorite books of 2019.

4. Derwood Inc. 

Ah, a childhood favorite. This book is Middle Grade, so if you’re looking for a delightfully funny, whimsical, and silly read for you or your Middle Grader, this book is an excellent choice. I’ve read it so many times over the years I’ve lost count. In fact, I think it’s about time for me to pick it up again…

3. A Light on the Hill
Read my review here. (This book is representing a series.)

I went into this series blind – as in not knowing a thing about what it’s about – and therefore I was completely unprepared for the plot twists that occurred. Connilyn Cossette takes obscure Bible verses, researches them, digs into them, and produces books that whisk me instantly into the Bible times and makes that time period in history seem so much more alive and relatable.

2. The Bridge
Read my review here. (This book is representing a trilogy.)

Another childhood favorite – written by the same author of Derwood Inc., but incredibly different from that book. Goodness, folks. This trilogy was written for Middle Graders, yet it was one of my first tastes of non-picture books. My sister read the books to us when I was three, which is my first specific memory of being read to. I’ve read the books time and again since then, and have found them beyond delightful.

1. An Hour Unspent
(This book is representing a trilogy.)

All of the other series I’ve talked about in this post I’ve featured the first book – no matter which one was my actual favorite – because that made sense. But this book is the end of the trilogy, and also the only fiction book I’ve given five stars to in the last four years.
Normally the end of a series bothers me, but this book was everything I wanted it to be, plus more. It had the narrator I was hoping for, the espionage I craved, the character development that only a skillful author can provide, and a delightful plot. And therefore, it claims the #1 spot in this post, which is a high honor indeed.

There you have it, folks! Enjoy reading!

Quick Genre Stats: 
Historical Fiction = 6
Biblical Fiction = 3
Mystery = 4
Contemporary = 4