Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper

Book - 2015
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When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the lives of her family and friends.
Publisher: New York, NY : Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 2015
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780545591614
0545591619
Branch Call Number: FIC OLDER
Characteristics: 297 pages ;,22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world. -- Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice.

When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the l... Read More »

When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the l... Read More »

When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the l... Read More »

When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the l... Read More »


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AL_LAURA Jul 30, 2017

Dark and mysterious, this urban fantasy mixes modernity with cultural heritage seamlessly.

r
rylee001
Jul 24, 2017

Vividly gorgeous and totally lit. Read it now.

r
rdlittlehammr1
Jun 09, 2017

I loved this! I couldn't put it down, can't wait to read the next one in the series.

forbesrachel Jun 02, 2017

Sierra Santiago has lived her whole life in Brooklyn surrounded by friends, family, and neighbours. She thought she knew who they were, and who she was, but when a corpse-like thing chases her, calling her name, things rapidly unravel. Turns out, her family has the ability to act as a conduit for spirits, to infuse the dead into art, thus bringing it to life. They, and others in her neighbourhood, warded off evil until something started hunting them. Sierra must not only discover who is doing so, but scramble to understand her own powers before she is next. As an urban Fantasy, Shadowshaper feels fresh because it's magic and voice is steeped in the values and traditions of culture that is different than the traditional white, western one. The importance of community, the power of art, and the societal pressures that people of colour feel shape the world that Sierra lives in. Through her, we see the pride she has in her heritage, but also the negative effects that a white dominant society has on her psyche. Her story is a coming of age story, but also one about learning to accept herself, and those in her family who did what they thought was best. While the ideas are to be praised, the execution of the story does fall a bit short. Characters sometimes feel like they're talking to thin air rather than listening to and conversing with one another, and there are times where something dramatic has happened, yet a page later, it is just life as usual. In some ways these are more realistic portrayals of teens, but it doesn't necessarily make for good storytelling. Fortunately, Sierra's development goes smoother. She is a young woman with her own agency, but she is also not afraid to ask for help, and seeing how her confidence in herself grows gives you a good feeling inside. Her relationship with Robbie, a fellow shadowshaper, helps her reach these new levels. For those seeking a quick urban Fantasy with a different coat of paint, hope into this world of spirit murals, and those who shape them.

m
morganameridius
May 08, 2017

Imaginative and original, with an entertaining, diverse cast of characters. I loved the idea of shadowshapers and I liked how authentic the story felt culturally. But it also felt rushed, a little confusing, and had a weak villain. Still, worth a read if you enjoy urban fantasy!

s
skyekilaen
Dec 14, 2016

I read Shadowshaper in one sitting, despite being on a crowded, noisy airplane with a seven year old chattering in my ear. Once I started reading this book, I could not stop. No matter how many interruptions, how many times I had to look away, I went right back to it. The world of Shadowshaper is so engrossing, it felt just as valid as that airplane and much more interesting.

(Besides, the seven year old had his own book, and it was about zombies. What more could he need?)

On Instagram, I described Shadowshaper as "City-based fantasy about a young artist who discovers her family's hidden magical heritage." The book's tagline is better: "Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world." This book is about power. Who wants power? What will they do, or not to, to get it? What happens when people become powerful?

The main character is a young woman named Sierra. She lives in Brooklyn. She has a good life. She has great friends. Things are about to get strange, though. Her grandfather had a stroke... maybe. Her mother isn't telling her everything... definitely. But she's going to figure out what's going on. Specifically, why people in murals have started crying, and why that dead-looking guy was chasing her. And if bad things are going down, including people getting hurt in her neighborhood? She's going to stop it. No doubt about that.

I've seen folks renounce the term "strong female character" because Hollywood so often gives us a caricature. Give a woman a gun and have her kick somebody, and that's a strong female character, right? Clearly no. When we say "strong female character" we mean someone like Sierra. Real, complicated, not always perfect, but always trying. A completely developed personality. Not killer Barbie. Not a gal in combat boots who becomes a damsel in distress (and someone's date) when the leading man shows up.

Rather than throw out the phrase "strong female character" I'd prefer to point out gals like Sierra as examples of what we want. THAT, we should say, THAT is a strong female character. She's determined, and she doesn't go to pieces when she meets a cute boy. (There is a cute boy in Shadowshaper, but the world doesn't revolve around him.) Sierra stands up for what she believes in, even at great personal risk.

This was the third book I read by Daniel José Older, and they've all been amazing. I found out about him at Wiscon in 2014, when he appeared on several panels. He was so smart, funny, and real that I guessed he'd be a good writer. I was correct. He has a tremendous ability to pull you into a story. The world he's developing in his books is rich and detailed. He's a gifted storyteller. I'm so glad I went to those panels!

AL_BETHW Dec 02, 2016

Urban fiction meets fantasy, all wrapped up in family history and cultural tradition. The scooby gang in this story are diverse, smart, capable and realistic. I hope Older keeps writing YA, he's filled in something that has been missing.

b
Berianne
Jun 23, 2016

A YA urban-fantasy that takes place in Brooklyn and is populated by a beautifully diverse cast of characters, this high-action novel casually tackles issues of culture, racism, sexism, queerness, art, and family while careening through a story-arc of magic and heritage. Though the characters were not as in-depth as I’d have liked, the dialogue was fresh and there were so many tiny elements that popped up as sidelines to the main story that made me clap my hands at seeing them on the page. (Examples: the casual realities of daily catcalling or a simple discussion about folks claiming a history that isn’t theirs or a clear example of racism among minority characters). Definitely refreshing! I will read future books and hope that the characters might get a little more complex as we move forward.

v
virgogirl73
Jun 05, 2016

This was a great book. So nice to see people of color portrayed in a fantasy book. Can't wait to read more by this author.

JCLChrisK Mar 15, 2016

There's no Gandalf or Dumbledore in this fantasy. Here the magic emerges from the cultural traditions of the Latino communities in Brooklyn. It's vibrant and vivid in original ways, deep and connected, urban and pre-urban. The heroine is absolutely admirable, surrounding by an appealing cast of characters. The dialogue is straight from life. The action is fast and immediate (and sometimes terrifying). And subtle commentary on race/culture appropriation is woven throughout. It makes tangible and magical an experience of the world far too underrepresented in books for teens through a fresh and absorbing tale.

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JCLChrisK Mar 15, 2016

We are entwined. I drew power from the spirits and spirit workers and I returned it to them tenfold. The true source of shadowshaper magic is in that connection, community, Sierra. We are interdependent.

JCLChrisK Mar 15, 2016

Crazy. It was the same word María and Tía Rosa flung at Grandpa Lázaro. The same word anyone said when they didn't understand something. "Crazy" was a way to shut people up, disregard them entirely.

nydemo Jun 15, 2015

Does it go to the comment page?

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