Review: Shadows of the White City, by Jocelyn Green

book coverOverview

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?


Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book through the publisher and author, the words and opinions below are my own.

Jocelyn Green takes her readers back to Chicago with the middle title of her Windy City Saga, and it isn’t to be missed. The city has risen like a phoenix from the ashes after the Great Fire in 1871. Sisters Meg and Sylvie Townsend are now in their 40s and Meg has a growing family. The years since we first met them in the first book, Veiled in Smoke, have been a mix of joy and sadness. Their father Stephen has now passed, but Meg has a growing family of her own. Sylvie, meanwhile, has decided never to marry after a disastrous relationship. If you’ve not read Veiled in Smoke, I heartily recommend you do so, because the narrative of Shadows of the White City builds upon the events in that novel. I re-read it to remind myself of what happened to Sylvie in it.

Two things stood out to me when I read the description of this title. First: whenever I come across a plot involving a young woman missing at the World’s Fair, my mind turns to serial killer HH Holmes. Much has been written about him, so I won’t go into detail here, but he did prey on young women during the 1893 World’s Fair. Second: knowing how old Sylvie was in Veiled in Smoke meant being able to work out how old she’d be in this book. It’s unusual to have a female lead be in her 40s in romantic fiction. While there’s no mention of Holmes in Green’s novel, there are references to Sylvie’s age and spinsterhood.

World's Fair 1893 ticket
Admission ticket to the 1893 World’s Fair, possibly a season ticket. From my family’s collection of historic documents.

This is a story about families, both biological and adopted. Rose, knowing that she was unofficially adopted, naturally wants to know more about her birth parents. The World’s Fair has brought visitors from all over the world, so it seems a logical time to search for answers. Kristof, meanwhile, grows increasingly frustrated with his biological brother and only remaining family member. Both he and Sylvie are reluctant to let go of Rose and Gregor, but when does care for them become over-protectiveness?

Jocelyn Green takes her readers on a multicultural tour of post-fire Chicago which is both entertaining and eye-opening. The magnificence of the World’s Fair is juxtaposed with one scene set in the city’s “red light district” and another involving elements of Irish organized crime. There are plot twists galore as Sylvie and Kristof attempt to discover what happened to Rose, although I thought part of the resolution a little ambiguous. I am a fast reader, so I did read Shadows of the White City in one day. Still, I did find it enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to reading the final installment of this Chicagoan family saga.


Four paws rating



Product Information

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 02 February 2021

Book Information


Author Q & A 

author imageAuthor Information

Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, strawberry rhubarb pie, the color red, and reading with a cup of tea. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Jocelyn Green’s Website   Home |


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