Saturday, July 10, 2021

Book Review: Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

About the Book:

She promised a dying father she would keep his daughter safe. She can't fail now.

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she would never 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 life unravels.

With nowhere else to turn, Sylvie seeks help from her boarder and Rose's violin instructor, Kristof Bartok. Fluent in several languages, his skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant and international communities where their investigation 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?

My Thoughts:

In Shadows of the White City, Jocelyn Green weaves a story of a young woman’s disappearance (Rose) and the desperation of her adoptive mother (Sylvie) with the 1893 World’s Fair. This novel contains deep strands about parent-child relationships and mental health issues (specifically PTSD), both of which the author deftly treats with consideration and hope. Although this novel stands as the second installment in The Windy City Saga and can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading Veiled in Smoke first because some of Sylvie’s issues derived from Chicago’s Great Fire in that novel.

Meeting and experiencing Sylvie’s story in the first novel prepped me for Shadows of the White City. I immediately connected with Sylvie due to my own struggles with PTSD, but some readers may find her less captivating as she is flawed and a bit overbearing when it comes to her daughter. In truth, I disliked several characters in the book, including Rose. Kristof, on the other hand, offered Sylvie a respectful, gentle love that endeared him to me and made me hope that their slow burn romance would blossom.

In conclusion, Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green is a deep, thoughtful novel that I enjoyed returning to nightly. This historical fiction novel offered nuggets of truth to meditate on as it explored relevant issues amid a vibrant World’s Fair setting. I look forward to the next novel in this series. Five stars.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


  1. This sounds like a lovely book. I don't believe I've read much about the Worlds Fair.

    1. I have only read one other series that features this setting. It was definitely an interesting place to be!