Exploring Heroism and Self-Discovery || ARC Review: Shadow of the Batgirl

Another DC Ink novel for the win! I’ve always been a huge fan of Cassandra Cain’s story, so when I heard about Shadow of the Batgirl, I was so, so excited.

Title: Shadow of the Batgirl
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Publisher: DC Ink
Release Date: February 5, 2020
Genres: YA Action

I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Official Synopsis

Cassandra Cain, teenage assassin, isn’t exactly Batgirl material…yet. Will she step out of the shadows and overcome her greatest obstacle–that voice inside her head telling her she can never be a hero?

Lucky for Cass, she won’t have to defy her destiny alone. With the help of her new mentors, noodle shop owner Jackie Fujikawa Yoneyama and a librarian named Barbara Gordon, she’ll attempt to answer this question the only way she knows how: learning everything she possibly can about her favorite hero. The only problem is that Batgirl hasn’t been seen in Gotham for years…Can Cass find Batgirl before her father destroys the world she has grown to love? Or will she have to take on a heroic mantle of her very own?

Quick Thoughts

  • This is one of the better-paced books in the DC Ink line! The story feels whole and complete (with an ending that could lead to more, of course). Some of the growth does feel a little rushed, but overall it felt all right.
  • There is some diverse representation in this book: Cass is Chinese and neuro-atypical, the mother-figure Jackie is Japanese, Barbara is shown in a wheelchair, and the love interest is black (and also loves romance novels and poetry, which is freaking adorable).
  • Speaking of the romance, it’s freaking adorable. Also, it doesn’t take over the plot and themes, which I appreciated.

Lasting Impressions

This graphic novel actually breaks from the previous DC Ink’s color palette! Instead of black and white with a couple of pops of color, this book is a lot more colorful (in comparison). The colors used and deep and shadowy, with some pops of color for certain characters (like Barb and Jackie). Despite having a bleak color palette, their are some lighthearted moments. At times when Cass is confused, embarrassed, or happy, the art is simplified with bright colors. I loved that affect—it made Cass even more endearing.

I adore Cassandra. The way her vulnerabilities, her fear and uncertainty, is depicted so beautifully in the art. She finds refuge in a library, where she meets Barbara Gordon, and in a Japanese restaurant, where she finds Jackie. Her interactions with them change for the better as Cass learns more about the world around her and how she relates to it. Her realization of what the word ‘hero’ means is both touching, and at times hilarious. Her self-discovery is beautifully written and touching.

The secondary characters who help Cassandra on her journey are wonderful as well. Jackie is so sharp-witted but fiercely loving. It was surprising to see Barbara in this book (which is odd, since she’s mentioned in the synopsis :D), but I loved the role she played in helping Cass find herself. And Eric is such a funny guy, perfect for bringing Cass out of her shell a little bit more.

Overall Feelings

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As someone who didn’t read the original novel, I found this to be very enjoyable. This book was so fun and so touching. I highly recommend it.

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