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

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!


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