Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on June 30, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
Reading Challenges: Booking Through Summer, COYER Scavenger Hunt
Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "No importa" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep.... Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present, and future.
Shadowshaper is the first book that I have had the pleasure of reading from author Daniel José Older. It was a real experience. I don’t get the chance to read a ton of very diverse young adult books. Sure, I will read books with a diverse character or odd element thrown in, but a truly diverse cast of characters featuring rich cultures that are different than my own…I don’t read as many of those books as I should. And if you are anything like me, then you need to read Shadowshaper. It is a young adult Urban Fantasy where paintings literally come to life. Which was both creepy and utterly cool. The cover fits the book perfectly. I couldn’t have imagined anything better for Sierra and the shadowshapers.
I both loved and was frustrated with the way the book started out. From reading the summary, I knew that the main character Sierra, was part of a secret order called the shadowshapers and that her ability stemmed from art. And then in the first page of the book Sierra saw a painting crying. I was pumped to get started on this journey that promised to be like Cassandra Clare. But it took a while to get going. And here is where my love and frustration came from. I really like the set up in a paranormal or urban fantasy book where the main character gets some mysterious clue. In this case it was a message from Sierra’s not so lucid grandfather. And that message sets them off on a quest, which unveils said magic in the world around them. I love that set up, but I was just so darn excited to get to the fantasy element that I got a little impatient with the set up part.
But I still loved Shadowshaper. Once the ball gets rolling and Sierra gets in touch with Robbie, the plot speeds off and this book becomes so absorbing that you will have a hard time putting it down. The Latin american culture is one that I am only vaguely familiar with, and one that I have not read enough about in stories. Shadowshaper had me dusting off my 4 years of high school Spanish frequently. Don’t worry, you can get by with context clues, but there are a lot of Spanish dusted throughout the story. I loved that though. It made the characters, and the voice, feel so authentic. Sierra and her friends also had a, let’s also say, authentic dialect among them. It took me out of my comfort zone and took me a little longer to connect with them because it is kind of jarring, but I ended up loving all of the characters.
Shadowshaper is one of those books that I am just so happy that I read. Daniel José Older’s writing is all his own, and I loved seeing such a distinct personality come through the pages of his story. This is a great example of not only a really well done book featuring a culture that should get more attention in young adult, but also just a really solidly good book. And yes, the urban fantasy was kick ass! That needs to be said. I want to go back to this world in Brooklyn with the shadowshapers. So freakin’ cool!
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