Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1)
Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1)
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Text Difficulty:3 - 4
Starred review from April 13, 2015
In Older’s (Half-Resurrection Blues) YA debut, Sierra Santiago is from Bedford-Stuyvesant, parties in Park Slope, and crashes Columbia University with ease. Sierra’s roots in her neighborhood are three generations deep, but no part of the city is alien to her. She loves art, and painting a mural on an abandoned building is the focus of her summer. Abruptly, her stroke-disoriented grandfather urges her to hurry the project—and then she is attacked by what looks like a walking corpse. What follows is a well-executed plot of the exceptional child with a mysterious history standing forth to save her world, aided by
a similarly gifted romantic interest. What makes Older’s story exceptional is the way Sierra belongs in her world, grounded in family, friends, and an awareness of both history and change. Her goal is to go deeper into that history and, by so doing, effect change of her own. Sierra’s masterful adaptability is most apparent in her language, which moves among English and Spanish, salsa and rap, formality and familiarity with an effortlessness that simultaneously demonstrates Older’s mastery of his medium. Ages 14–up. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency.
Starred review from March 15, 2015
When walking corpses-and worse-show up in the city, a teen discovers family secrets and ancestral powers.Sierra's summer plan is to paint an enormous mural on an abandoned, unfinished five-story building. On an older mural nearby, unnervingly, a painted face changes expression and weeps a tear that glistens and drops. Grandpa Lazaro, mostly speechless from a stroke, grasps a lucid moment to warn Sierra, "They are coming for us....the shadowshapers." Abuelo can't or won't explain further, and Sierra has no idea what shadowshapers are. Her regular world explodes into a "mystical Brooklyn labyrinth" shimmering with beauty but deadly dangerous. Walking corpses with icy grips and foul smells chase her, and a throng haint-a shadowy phantom with mouths all over-almost kills her. In Bed-Stuy, Prospect Park, and Coney Island in the middle of the night, Sierra fights to stay alive and to decipher her role in this chaos. This story about ancestors, ghosts, power, and community has art and music at its core; Sierra's drawing and painting turn out to be tools for spirit work. Sierra's Puerto Rican with African and Taino ancestors; her community is black and brown, young and old, Latin and Caribbean and American. Sometimes funny and sometimes striking, Older's comfortable prose seamlessly blends English and Spanish. Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamic-a must. (Urban fantasy. 14-18)
Starred review from April 1, 2015
Gr 7 Up-Summer has just started, and Sierra plans to enjoy it, hanging out with her friends in their Brooklyn neighborhood and painting a mural at the local junklot. Then things start to get weird. While she is talking to fellow artist Robbie at the first party of the summer, a zombielike creature disrupts things, Robbie disappears, and she is left to discover that she lives in a world full of magic that she knows nothing about. As she slowly pieces together the mystery of her heritage, Sierra discovers her own powers of ancestral magic and battles the evil professor who is trying to steal them. Robbie is a clear love interest, but he isn't there to rescue Sierra. Sierra is a tough, confident, body-positive female protagonist of Puerto Rican descent, proud of her 'fro and curves. The fact that she and Robbie seem to be connecting romantically is portrayed as more of a happy coincidence than the culmination of a lifelong dream of romance. Dialogue is fast paced and authentic to Sierra's Brooklyn neighborhood, which is vividly described. Readers will find someone to whom they can relate in her diverse group of friends. VERDICT Excellent diverse genre fiction in an appealing package.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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