I mentioned how much I love this book cover an embarrassingly long time ago on Instagram. Now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it, and it’s exactly the book I’ve been looking for all month.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, a imprint of Scholastic, Inc. 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Art, Street Art, YA
Source: Personal Collection
Sierra plans to spend her summer bringing art into her urban neighborhood, but things don’t go according to plan. Murals start fading rapidly, people start disappearing and returning very different, and no one wants to explain exactly what’s going on. With the help of another artist, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a way of bringing spirits into different art forms. But someone wants to destroy the shadowshapers and steal their power. Sierra must figure out her role in this new magical world to protect the other shadowshapers, her neighborhood, and her friends and family.
Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this book. I love that there are diverse characters, a completely badass female protagonist, honest discussion of race and culture, and just a little bit of creepiness. I appreciated the fact that the women in this story support one another; I think it’s important to see positive female friendships in fiction, but that’s something that seems to have been missing from a lot of this month’s books. There’s urban magic, mystery, and plenty of plot twists. There’s even a little bit of romance woven seamlessly into the story without taking it over completely. I love that the story was a little unexpected and thought the pacing was perfect. By the end of the book, I was reading as fast as I could to find out what happened to the characters.
Earlier this month, I said that I wanted a book where art is a positive force without the threat of legal consequences or complaints about vandalism. I’m happy to say that I found that here. Sierra finds art useful and a constructive way to change the neighborhood and remember lost loved ones. Also, unlike any of the other books I’ve read this month, Sierra and love interest Robbie make temporary street art. Even chalk is a useful tool for them without being even slightly destructive. This book is very creative and different, and I can’t recommend it enough!
For more information:
Author Daniel José Older’s official website
***** 5/5 stars
Sierra discovers a mysterious family secret and must learn how to channel her magic into her art to protect her community.
If you’re looking for a book with strong, diverse characters and a positive message about art, this is the perfect one.