Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older


Okay, first up, how beautiful is this cover?! I love it so much–and I really enjoyed the story inside it too! The book follows Sierra, a teenage girl who’s also an artist. She’s currently working on a mural, but weird things are happening: her grandfather is dropping cryptic hints and a painting is crying. Also, a zombie crashes a party she is at. She’s convinced it’s all connected, but can’t figure out how. As she begins to figure it out, she discovers a friendship with Robbie, also an artist, and begins to enter the mysterious world of shadowshaping, the art of incorporating spirits into art, story and song, and ends up having to harness it to save her world.

I absolutely loved this book.I loved the fantasy’s connection to the arts, and I adored the Brooklyn setting, which really came alive in Older’s capable hands. All of the descriptions of art and the setting were all really vivid. I was able to picture the story, the characters, and the art in my head, which is usually really hard for me to do. It all just jumped off the page and engaged me deeply.

The characters were all super interesting people, and Sierra was kick-ass, but very layered. She had a lot of backbone and confidence, but also had her own insecurities as the story went on. I really loved watching her grow and embrace her heritage and the changes that it wrought in her. It was great to see her find her voice and use it to make things happen.

This book was a fast-paced quick read and really interesting. It was hard to put down (and I didn’t) because the mystery kept twisting and turning. I figured some pieces of it out, but the ride to get to what I had figured out was still really fun and I enjoyed watching it get to where it was going. Once it got there, I also didn’t want it to end because it opened so much more up in the way of possibilities for future stories. (I immediately bought the related novellas and ordered the next book in the series from the library).

Overall, this book has an interesting setting, vivid description, and is a really cool and magical fantasy that ties into the arts. The main character is great, and the classic YA story of her finding her voice is amazing. The story is fairly complete, but it also opens up potential stories that I very much look forward to reading. If you are a fan of fast-paced urban fantasy with strong protagonists, I highly recommend picking this up.

Rating:Ā 4 stars

More Information:Ā Amazon, Goodreads, Daniel Jose Older’s website

If you have any other urban fantasy recommendations, let me know in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

  1. Solid review, Sarah. I disagree with some of your opinions, which is why I love seeing such a well-defended review! I felt like Sierra was a relatively flat character and I was frustrated with how ambiguous I felt the last third of the book was. But, I also don’t see images in my head, which is probably why I struggled with Older’s writing. Will you continue the series?


    1. I can understand your point of view :). I usually struggle with images in my head, but I didn’t with this one for some reason. I think, for me, the setting really brought the rest of it to life. I do plan to continue the series–I immediately bought the novellas & will eventually get around to the second book.

      Liked by 1 person

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