Sara's Reviews > Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
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The first word that comes to mind to describe Daniel Jose Older's SHADOWSHAPER? COOL. :)

Seriously, this was a fun read. A YA urban fantasy that's playful, imaginative, and vibrant, with the threat of wraiths, corpses, and other phantoms lurking at every bend. The art-inspired "magic system" where ancestral spirits can be channeled into paintings, music, and stories brought the idea of "making a story come alive" to a whole other level. Sierra's a fantastic protagonist: smart, feisty, creative, and not afraid to do what needs to be done. And once she learns enough to harness her shadowshaping abilities, does she ever kick ass during the climax. I was fist-pumping during the last two chapters - that's how much she rocked.

Diversity abounds in SHADOWSHAPER. In addition to biracial Sierra (Afro-Puerto Rican), her community teems with people of color and a host of ethnic backgrounds. And while I've never visited the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of NYC, Older's succinct descriptions of this Brooklyn neighborhood made it feel not just real, but familiar - as if it were home. Then again, Bed-Stuy is where Older lives, so no wonder he "paints" it so vividly.

My only critique is that I would have liked... well, more. More development with the secondary characters. More explanations about how shadowshaping works. Slightly longer descriptions. This may be a YA novel, but at 297 pages and with chapters that average less than 7 pages each, SHADOWSHAPER feels a little too short. Also, I don't remember reading about Sierra's father. Why doesn't he appear in the book? I don't remember any explanation of where he was or why he was out of the picture.

So would I read the next installment, SHADOWHOUSE FALL? Hell yes. Now that I've been sucked into Sierra's world, I'm not ready to leave it quite yet. If you like stories about family, friendship, honoring one's heritage, and art literally coming to life, you'll dig SHADOWSHAPER as well.

Oh, and music lovers should check out this book, too. Older is a songwriter and musician, and his knowledge really pulses through in his descriptions of music.
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Reading Progress

November 18, 2015 – Shelved
November 18, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
October 15, 2017 – Started Reading
October 15, 2017 –
page 11
3.7% "Daniel Jose Older is going to be at an author event I'm planning to attend at the end of the month. So now's a good time to read this! ;)"
October 16, 2017 –
page 54
October 19, 2017 –
page 192
64.65% "You can tell Mr. Older is a musician. The way he describes music is... just... <3."
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: diverse-reads
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: female-protagonists
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: for-music-lovers
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: for-art-lovers
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: spirits-and-demons
October 20, 2017 – Shelved as: magic-system-love
October 20, 2017 – Finished Reading

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