Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural
Sierra Santiago, a teen artist, notices the murals around Brooklyn are fading. And then one sheds a tear. Her grandfather who recently had a stroke finally says something coherent, except Sierra can’t figure out the meaning. Piece by piece she starts to uncover a family secret about shadowshapers and what it all has to do with the murals.
I had been looking forward to this book and was lucky enough to pick up an advanced copy at BookCon.
This book is refreshing in that the supernatural elements are so grounded in reality. The magical elements in this are cool, but it isn’t the fantasy that carries it; it’s the realistic characters running around the very real Brooklyn. There’s also a lot of Spanish and other cultural aspects that give the characters and story more life.
The characters feel like actual teens. Sometimes teenagers in books take on a very poetic nature, which definitely works when done right. But I appreciated the kids in this book being so realistic. Sierra and her friends each have distinctive personalities and Older does this without having to describe her friends all that much. How they talk and act felt more natural than in anything I’ve read in a while.
Then of course there is Sierra herself who is a wonderful heroine trying to learn something about family that was kept from her, which is relatable despite the secrets having to do with spiritual powers. She’s curious and frustrated and keeps fighting for the information she wants.
I also can’t ignore how beautiful this cover is. Not just aesthetically, but to have a WoC on the cover of a YA novel. And at that, a full faced girl that isn’t in a pretty dress.
If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book. The plot didn’t have quite shocking twist and turns. You could probably predict a few bits of it. However, I loved Sierra and shadowshaping world. This book had a lot of little things that were more important than the story itself.