The Curtain Lady

Young Adult - Paranormal
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/19/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Andrea Shepherd is the author of the novel The Curtain Lady, a coming-of-age story with a haunting twist, and 25 Tango Lessons, a collection of essays on life and dance.
Andrea has written and danced all her life. She took her first ballet class at age 4, dabbled in everything from tap dancing to theatre to salsa, and finally fell head-over-stiletto-heels in love with Argentine tango in her 20s.
In school, English was always Andrea’s best and favourite subject, though she was never much of a student. She started keeping a diary at age 10 and wrote just about every day for 20 years. She started writing her first novel at age 13 and finally completed one almost four decades later. Titled The Curtain Lady, it was released in August 2023.
Andrea worked at the Montreal Gazette for 19 years, starting as a clerk, working her way up to a copy-editing position and writing feature articles. Andrea also taught a university desktop publishing course for years. In 2008, she left journalism to pursue dance full time. Against all odds and sensible advice, she and her partner opened a tango studio, MonTango, which became one of the top Argentine tango schools in Montreal.
In 2014, Andrea partnered up her love of dance and writing when she created the blog Life Is a Tango. It gained more of a following than she ever expected and eventually became her first book, 25 Tango Lessons (published in 2021).
Andrea lives in Montreal with her family.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

The Curtain Lady by Andrea Shepherd is a coming-of-age tale with paranormal overtones. Set throughout the 1980s in Montreal, the book chronicles the story of a young girl named Poppy Bell from age eleven to her early twenties. Since sixth grade, Poppy started keeping a diary where she notes her everyday life. Haunted by nightmares and someone she calls the Curtain Lady, Poppy spends her days with her best friend, Chantal, and dearly misses her deceased father. As she slowly grows into her teens, Poppy develops an interest in boys, but her romantic endeavors always turn disastrous. Additionally, she indulges in alcohol and drugs while spending the nights in sleep paralysis, visited by shadow people. Years later, after Chantal returns to Montreal, Poppy moves in with her in an apartment, and they continue their adventures. But will she ever stop having nightmares?

Andrea Shepherd's coming-of-age tale is full of heartbreak, mystery, and a healthy dose of the supernatural. The Curtain Lady is a moving story about growing up, first loves, friendships, and mistakes we all make in our younger years. There is a uniquely nostalgic fervor to the narrative. It takes you back to the 80s with a colorful assortment of characters, some of whom you will love, while others you may loathe. The story is told through a first-person perspective in the form of a diary written by the protagonist, Poppy, and this brings a certain intimacy to the tale that makes you relate to her. Among all her relationships, Poppy and Chantal's friendship was the book's highlight for me. Overall, I very much enjoyed the book, and if you're a fan of coming-of-age tales, you shouldn't miss out on this one!

Stephanie Chapman

Andrea Shepherd's The Curtain Lady is a paranormal story seen through Poppy's first-person narration in her diary. Starting in 1980, Poppy describes her daily activities as a sixth grader. Her journal entries were originally an assignment, but she found she liked writing. However, Poppy describes a woman emerging from behind her red curtain and tickling her mercilessly. She claimed the “Curtain Lady” was a ghost. Her best friend, Chantal, shared Poppy's interest in horror stories and movies. When Sandrine joined them, it exposed the girls to the world of alcohol, drugs, and boys. However, Poppy keeps a secret to herself. She sees 'Shadow People' that she is afraid will hurt her. She remains paralyzed with fear until she manages a scream, which causes them to disappear. How will she get rid of them?

Andrea Shepherd uses Poppy’s diary to share every one of her memorable thoughts. Poppy is a relatable character who desires to be accepted by others. The addition of Sandrine reinforces how easily she could influence Poppy to do anything for approval. Poppy’s nightly visitors appear more frequently when she feels stressed. They also appeared more dangerous when she played with an Ouija board. I admired how she tried to find a way to rid herself of them. Learning about sleep paralysis and its origins was fascinating. The unpredictable plot twists kept me fully engaged in the story. I found it easy to follow the timeline because of the labeling of the chapters. The writing improvement was noticeable as Poppy matured. The dramatic ending left me stunned. The Curtain Lady will appeal to readers who enjoy paranormal stories featuring a character's inner turmoil.

Emma Megan

The Curtain Lady by Andrea Shepherd is a compelling debut novel set in 1980s Montreal. It is about a girl who has sleep paralysis. Penelope is a bright eleven-year-old girl who likes making up stories. She loves writing in her diary about school, her best friend Chantal, frightening nightmares, and dating. Penelope has the same nightmares almost every night, and she can only get out of them if she screams. She sees shadowy things floating over her and staring at her—faceless ghosts and spirits that petrify her so much she can't move. Even though she hates those disturbing dreams, Penelope loves horror books, movies, and ghost stories. Tired of being terrified and tormented by the shadow people, Penelope is determined to discover why they visit her and how she can escape them. Will Penelope get rid of the petrifying visions of the shadow people?

What a haunting debut novel! The Curtain Lady is not a typical paranormal story. It's very realistic and quite terrifying. It touches on teenage issues such as loss of innocence, alcohol, smoking, friendship, relationships, loneliness, and trying to find a way to move on after your world turns upside down because the imagined becomes reality. It involves vivid nightmares, levitation, an Ouija board, ghosts, and demons. It has the most jaw-dropping and tear-jerking ending. Andrea Shepherd has created a disturbing, absorbing, and heartfelt story with a teenage protagonist that reveals in sharp detail her teenage problems and unsettling experiences due to her sleep paralysis condition. Many young female readers will find Penelope engaging and identify with her somehow. I recommend this coming-of-age story to anyone interested in an unforgettable story with a haunting twist.