Series: Shadowshaper #1
Author: Daniel José Older
Pages: 297 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "No importa" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep.... Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present, and future.
Shadowshaper was a pretty good read! It all starts when Sierra’s grandfather, who recently suffered a stroke, tells her that someone is coming and mentions something about shadowshapers. Everyone thinks the old man is crazy, but Sierra believes him and wants answers. Her grandfather had also told her to find a boy named Robbie to help her finish the mural she’s been working on. Turns out that Robbie knows all about shadowshapers, because he is one. And so is Sierra.
Shadowshaper was quite fun and unique. Although at times I couldn’t help but think about that SpongeBob episode Frankendoodle (which is one of my favorites, but still weird). The ability of the shadowshapers is really interesting, but also creepy at times. I mean, pulling a spirit into a drawing and having it come to life to do your bidding is pretty awesome. Unless you’re power mad like the villain is, which is when things go terribly wrong. Of course, there’s also family secrets. I love family secrets!
The one thing I didn’t like about Shadowshaper was that the pacing was very inconsistent. There’s infodumps, then Sierra is dancing, then there’s some action, then another infodump, more dancing, then more action. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was just very up and down which made my attention waiver. I wanted to know more about how shadowshaping worked and why the villain was doing what he was doing, but it all took the form of “lessons” from Robbie, Sierra’s brother Juan, or a librarian named Nydia. Then those lessons are interrupted by baddies, and pick up later on. It was rough.
In the end, I enjoyed Shadowshaper. It was a bit of a bumpy ride and I definitely wanted more world-building. But it was a fun, one-sitting story. I’m not sure if it ended with me being invested enough to want to read more though.