The Shadows (Books of Elsewhere, book 1)
By Jacqueline West
Published 2010 by Dial Books for Young Readers
I picked this one up in a last-ditch attempt to read some Bluebonnet books before they announce the winner. Olive and her parents move to a new house, something they've never had before. As excited as she is about having a place of her own, there's something weird about this place. There are strange paintings throughout the house that seemed to be glued to the walls. And when Olive finds an old pair of spectacles in the house, she learns that the paintings are certainly more than they seem...
Olive is a fun and spunky heroine about whom I loved reading. As a matter of fact, I really enjoyed all the characters West created here. The three cats who live in Olive's house are great with unique and interesting personalities. West has also created some wonderful villains who are actually really dark and evil, something that is a bit unusual in children's books. Yes, the villains are usually unambiguously evil but they're not necessarily really all that dark. The whole book itself has an excellently dark and mysterious tone. The story is self-contained and as such, I don't really see a need for sequels (which I know there are/will be). As much as I liked Olive as a character, I didn't really feel terribly connected to her. I'm sure, as it's my MO, I'll read the next book in the series, but I think this could have been a great stand-alone dark fantasy book for kids.