Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older [Review] – A Diverse YA Urban Fantasy

October 8, 2016 Book 1 ★★★★

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older [Review] – A Diverse YA Urban FantasyShadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Series: Shadowshaper #1
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on June 30th 2015
Source: Borrowed from Library
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four-stars

Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.

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.

My Review:

Shadowshaper is definitely a YA fantasy unlike any other I’ve read. The book is early on made incredible by the characterization of Sierra, our dark-skinned, Puerto Rican, Afro-Latina. I’m Puerto Rican myself, and I’ve never seen myself represented in a book before, so seeing Sierra, this puerto rican girl being totally relatable and amazing, really made reading this book even more amazing.

The author also creates an incredibly diverse cast of supporting characters, all of them with unique voices and experiences. The dialogue was so… fresh! It was immensely funny and witty, with lots of slang that really resonated with me. Also incredible? Characters actually spoke Spanish! Not some poor Google-translated Spanish either. Spanish that I was happy to read! Older also built an incredible atmosphere; his descriptions so vivid that I felt like I was literally in Brooklyn, in a barrio full of different latinos. 

Of course, the diversity isn’t the only amazing thing in this book. A “Shadowshaper” is a person who has the power to channel spirits through art, music, and storytelling, and can make the spirits do their bidding. I found this aspect so beautiful! I was so captivated by this, as it has a certain magical realism feel to it as well.

I listened to the audiobook, and Anika Noni Rose’s audiobook narration was so entrancing. Her performance was incredible, as each character was portrayed perfectly. There was never any confusion as to who was speaking, and her Spanish was so good! An audiobook has to have great narration for me to listen to it, and this one really really transformed my reading experience!

Overall, Shadowshaper is a unique YA Urban Fantasy with a diverse cast, magical plot, and magnificent writing. If you like audiobooks, definitely pick it up, as the narrator totally brings the story to life and enhances your reading experience!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Romance
three-half-stars
Overall: 4.1

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I'm Marianne. Professional Fangirl, part-time Blogger. Full-time college student. GIFs are a natural part of my posts, so be warned. I LOVE reading, so definitely feel free to discuss books with me. Opinions are welcome.