February 21, 2018

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A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge | SLJ Review

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redstarHARDINGE, Frances. A Skinful of Shadows. 432p. Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419725722.

Gr 6 Up– Makepeace is raised in a strict Puritanical environment by her single mother in 17th-century England at the brink of civil war. Right before her tragic death, the girl’s mother reveals information about her daughter’s parentage. In a quest to learn more about her ability to interact with spirits of the dead, Makepeace travels to Grizehayes, the home of the rich and sinister Fellmottes. There she befriends other Fellmotte illegitimate offspring, including one who becomes her best friend. The two constantly try to run away, but are always brought back because of their ability to be vessels for spirits. As the years pass, Makepeace is finally able to make her escape, but at a great expense. The sharp, intelligent protagonist is also keeping a secret of her own: she’s possessed by the ghost of a once-imprisoned bear, giving her preternatural abilities. The rich language, distinct and eerie world-building, and truly evil villains make this a layered, thought-provoking tale about power, friendship, survival, and love. Makepeace is caught between identities, religions, and loyalties. As she slips from one misadventure to another, meeting intriguing figures along the way, her fierceness and sheer will keep her alive and true to herself and those she protects. Hardinge continues to create multifaceted characters, well-researched historical settings, and laugh-out-loud dialogue that will enrapture strong readers of fantasy and complex historical fiction. VERDICT A book that only Hardinge could write; add this masterful and spooky historical fantasy to upper middle grade and YA shelves.–Shelley M. Diaz,School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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