Read Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older Anika Noni Rose Online


Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world. Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual BrookPaint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world. Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one -- and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family's past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice.Audio - 7hours 21mins...

Title : Shadowshaper
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781467621007
Format Type : Audio
Number of Pages : 502 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Shadowshaper Reviews

  • Rick Riordan
    2019-05-08 21:45

    YA fantasy.I'm a big fan of Older's adult urban fantasy series Bone Street Rumba, so I was curious to see how his style would translate into a young adult novel. The answer is beautifully. Sierra Santiago is a typical Brooklyn teenager just starting her summer vacation. She plans to hang out with her friends, have some fun, and finish painting her dragon mural on the wall of an old half-finished high-rise development called the Tower, which otherwise is an unwelcome eyesore in the neighborhood. Sierra's summer plans go sideways when she notices other murals in the neighborhood beginning to change. The colors fade. The faces cry and change expression. Her grandfather, debilitated from a stroke, becomes lucid just long enough to warn her: She is in danger. Her whole family and the neighborhood itself will be destroyed. She must find a boy named Robbie, and together they must finish her mural quickly.Sierra doesn't understand any of this, but she tracks down Robbie at a friends' pool party. Before they can even talk, a strange pale man like a zombie invades the party and chases after them, demanding to know where Lucera is -- someone Sierra has never heard of.Soon Sierra learns she is part of the community of shadowshapers -- those who can call upon the spirits of their ancestors and other local ghosts to take form in art, music or even storytelling. With a quick scribble of chalk, you can form a stick figure that comes alive to fight for you, or a pair of eyes that flies off into the night and spies for you. Imagine what you could do with a meticulously painted wall mural of dragons or skeletons . . .Unfortunately, someone is after the shadowshapers. Someone wants to take all their power for himself, and if he can't, he will destroy them. Sierra and Robbie are faced with an enemy who can bind and distort spirits, and even create horrible zombie-like corpuscles from the murdered bodies of people Sierra used to know. (GROSS!) If Sierra doesn't learn to use her powers quickly, everything she loves will be obliterated.Older's novel is a real page-turner. The pacing is perfect with short, well-crafted chapters. The characters immediately grab you. Sierra has a wonderful cast of friends to help her, and Older's teenage Brooklyn dialogue is so spot-on and punchy that reading it is like breathing fresh oxygen. I am tempted to think Older is a shadowshaper, because he definitely has the ability to channel spirits straight into the writing and bring them to life.Bring on the sequel, please!

  • Carol.
    2019-05-19 22:47

    I’m rather annoyed by the label ‘message fiction,’ as I feel like it implies everything else doesn’t have a message. Yet I suppose there is a sort of value in the term and implication about the focus of the book. Shadowshaper isn’t a message book as much as it is a values book, a modern urban fantasy that is solidly representational, the sort of book that is likely to drive Bad Luppies into writing ranty blog posts. However, despite the values focus, it is a solid story, the sort of book I’d give any young reader.It begins with Sierra Santiago working on a street mural. As she’s finishing for the day, she realized that the mural of a deceased local man appears to be crying. At home, her grandfather who has been rendered incomprehensible by a stroke suddenly speaks clearly, telling Sierra “they are coming… for the shadowshapers,” and to talk to “that boy, Robbie,” as well as apologizing profusely. Sierra’s unable to get more information from him, but at a local party that night, she hunts down Robbie, a tall, attractive Haitian teen with a talent for drawing. Before they can get into details about the shadowshapers, they are interrupted by a man shambling through the party. Before long, Sierra is on a mission to discover what’s happening around her, aided by Robbie, her best friend Bennie, her family and even the university librarian.The story is solid. The shape of it feels young adult, with occasional preoccupations with changing identity within the family, focus on friends and romantic attraction. I thought it grew reasonably organically, and kept a fast pace going. It did not require the stupid “go-off-on-my-own” device or the equally tired “all-adults-are-stupid” set-up. Writing was solid. Description conveyed a sense of place. Older did shift into more vernacular speech for dialogue (“Imma” showed up quite a bit, as in “I’m going to go”), particularly with the teens, which might add realism, but for me added some awkwardness. The texting mainly annoyed me, but it’s an element other readers may enjoy. The fantasy elements were about equally split between the art and the corpses chasing them, which was a little surprising to me–I expected more focus on the art-based power but it makes sense by the end.What is remarkable about it is how ordinary so much of it feels, using characters and situations often stereotyped as Other. Sierra is lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a mom who teaches, a dad that works, and two older brothers who have gown up and are active in their communities. Her clique is a group of teens who are smart, have diverse interests, and includes an interracial lesbian couple.There’s older men that hang out on the corner, but they are the ones who self-publish the newspaper and work to preserve the community. Sierra’s kind to her disabled grandfather, friendly to everyone and resourceful in problem-solving. In short, despite what some readers may see as unfamiliar trappings, it will feel very ordinary in a way most readers should be able to access. It’s also pleasant to not have Sierra and her friends’ experiences fetishized.At the same time, Older does a nice job of integrating common experiences a person of color has in a white-dominated society. Sierra experiences some instances of mild racism when she ventures out of her usual haunts. There’s also a small ongoing motif about gentrification. He also nicely touches on issue of body imagery and ‘natural hair’ in relation to self-esteem and culture, with Sierra’s aunt being the worst critic of her natural locks. Understand, to me none of these felt like prominent parts of the story–they were just the bits that fill in a character’s life. I think it provides a valuable representational experience.Overall, I am not a fan of the young adult genre, so elements that don’t impress me might strongly appeal to genre readers. There are a few YA books that are amazing standouts (The Scorpio Races, Fly by Night, Daughter of Smoke & Bone)–but Shadowshaper is a solid contribution to the genre, worthy of gifting to the YA fans/teens in your life.

  • Hayley
    2019-05-07 18:46

    I was so excited to read this book just from the blurb and the cover. Even though it took me waay too long to finally get my hands on a copy, it didn't disappoint. I wish teenage me had a book like this. Full disclosure I'm from the English-speaking part of the Caribbean so the culture is not the same but there was enough similarities that I could relate to almost all the cultural aspects of the story. Not to mention the folklore felt brand new but oh-so-familiar at the same time. This book has a nice dark (sometimes creepy) tone without being too over the top and the descriptions were so vivid I could imagine all the art and the spirits in my head. It's so good having a magic system not based in European culture. I loved Sierra and her straightforward attitude to everything. I felt that her reactions never felt out of place. She panicked when needed to, confided in her friends and sought help appropriately. I seriously want to be a part of her friend group. I also love that we see her struggling (and ultimately overcoming) her insecurities about her body and her looks on her own terms and not because anyone (particularly the guy she likes) validated her appearance. Robbie by the way was a cutie and it was fun watching him and Sierra support each other and work together. I must admit I initially expected this to get a little more fantastical but I was surprised that the story leaned more towards magical realism than anything else. That for me actually made the story even better because everything was so closely woven into the normal, everyday surroundings. The New York here isn't just a backdrop, it's a living, breathing city that is inseparable from the characters' lives and culture and it's amazing to read. Fantasy or not, the author also doesn't shy away from the reality of being a woman of color in America and it was refreshing to read a book that wasn't focussed on the aspect of race but didn't let you forget the daily struggles/concerns/world views that people of color have. The reality of internalised racism, colorism and patriarchy from your own relatives was something that I could very much relate too. I really appreciated that how honestly this was handled. Finally, I love that the author kept this family-centric. As a Caribbean person, the folklore, tradition and beliefs handed down from older relatives are priceless (whether you believe them or not) and alot of YA fantasy has the tendency to pull their main characters away from family. THANK YOU for giving us a heroine that doesn't base every choice around a guy and in fact keeps her family at the forefront.My only complaint is that this felt way too short. Highly recommended!Original Review Omg the coverrrrrr. Beautiful WOC with big natural hair proudly on the cover is enough to pull me in. Not to mention New York, magic, Caribbean legends?!Caribbean person here freaking out about this. I'm reaaalllyyyyy excited to see what legends this book brings to the table.

  • Samantha
    2019-04-24 17:26

    3.5 stars! This short book packs a punch. A unique urban fantasy that mixes Latinx folklore with the setting of Brooklyn, introducing a unique magic where ancestral spirits combine with art. Shadowshaper isn't only about magic. It also discusses racism, sexism, gentrification, family ties, and appropriation. Definitely check this series out if you are looking for an urban fantasy that is outside the box!

  • The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
    2019-04-30 19:32

    Read it! Loved it! Just. Wow!Love that COVER!Firstly, nothing against Cassandra Clare, whom I give props to for insisting the character of Magnus Bayne not be whitewashed by Hollywood, but Shadowshaper is by far and away better than the Mortal Instruments series. Shadowshaper is DIVERSE, with an Afro-Latina lead heroine. Daniel Jose Older's New York looks like the REAL New York, a hodgepodge of cultures and peoples who live and breathe and who have brought their unique folkways to the city that never sleeps.It has been the height of depressing (and rather freaking annoying) in the IR genre to read yet ANOTHER book featuring a heroine who passes the paper bag test and whose "long flowing locks" are courtesy of some Native American ancestor. I can talk about all the negative messages that sends, but that's a post for another time (or if you follow me on social media). I find it rather telling that most of the books I've read this year, including Shadowshaper feature dark-skinned Black heroines with natural hair. And some of those male authors are NOT Black. Sierra Santiago is one of those awesome heroines. She's proudly and fiercely Afro-Latina with a gorgeous mane of fluffy fro and lots of teen attitude (I kept seeing the killer Esmeralda Spalding as Sierra). She's an artist full of cultural pride despite the colorism that sadly is as much a part of Latino life as it is here in America and other places. I loved how Sierra put her color-struck aunt in check after making a disparaging comment about Robbie, a young Haitian artist, whom Sierra is digging on. And while she digs on Robbie, when it's time for the mission, finding out exactly what shadowshaping is and how to use her powers, she's not wasting time hung up on the guy. I really hate when authors do that to the heroine, and far too many YA authors are guilty of what I call "heroine hijacking".Shadowshaper an awesome urban fantasy story that gets that "urban" doesn't mean whitewashed. Nothing annoys me as much as urban fantasy with all-White characters, especially when such books are set in ethnically diverse cities. What really annoys me is authors who have the unmitigated gall to get their undies in a bunch when readers point that glaring fact out to them. And not only is Shadowshaper one of the best examples of what urban fantasy is SUPPOSED to read like, but the magic system isn't based in European tradition (not that that's a bad thing but let's face it, rather overdone), but the stories and myths of indigenous cultures and of Africa. It's wonderful to see how other cultures look and navigate the unseen world.Not only was I immersed in other traditions, but the day to day minutiae of New York life and the struggle between the old neighborhood and gentrification. The men playing dominos, bodegas that sell soft drinks alongside tamarind juice. And Sierra's friends are just as diverse as she is. Older writes these characters easily, like they're real people. It's effortless that Sierra has lesbian best friends who are like any other best friends. And yes, the idea of salsa thrash metal is just all sorts of cool. I asked Mr. Older about that on Twitter and he responded (fangirl squee).Overall, I just cannot rave enough about how awesomely amazing Shadowshaper was. If you're that kind of person who still can't wrap your brain around the growing diversity in this country and think the only relatable characters look like you, that's a pity because you're going to miss out on an incredible story with lots of adventure, a smidgen of romance and just enough chills and thrills to make you see shadows in a whole new light (no pun intended).

  • Hiba Sajid
    2019-05-19 19:39

    Meh.What can go wrong with a book with intricate worldbuilding, diverse cast if characters and discussions of sexism and racism? Bad writing, I tell you, and bland characters.The Shadowshaper had been on my to-read shelf for such a long time and I was so excited to read it especially because of that beautiful cover but the thing is, the cover was only interesting thing about it. I didn't care for any of the characters, I wasn't interested in any action and the only reason I read it till the end was I liked the mash up of urban fantasy with latinx folklore but even that was not explored.Lemme give the credits where it's due. There was diverse cast of characters both racially and sexually. The writer carefully merged experiances of poc in a white dominated society wonderfully. He also touches upon matters of gentrification, sexism and family ties. But none of these problems were strong themes of the book but shown as everyday problem a person might face. As I said above, I liked the mix up of Latinx folklore and stories of spirits with modern new york settings. I liked the concept of murals of vessels for spirits and I was really excited to know about these stuff.BUT the problem is it wasn't explored. Seirra, our main character was an artist and I was so excited to know more about her as a painter but this part of her personality wasn't explored much. To be very honest, her characterization, or that of any other characters were so poor. There was no personality arc of any character and after about 60% mark, I realized I didn't care for any of them at all. There was a suble romance but since I didn't care for any of the characters, the romance came as even blander for me. It was so random and un-understandable(not sure if that's a word) and so out of place. It seems writer added it only to tick on the romance box.Maybe I would have enjoyed the story despise the lack of world building and characterisation, if it wasn't for even boring writing. This book was supposed to be fast paced but I think I read only 5 chapters of it in first two days. Even the action didn't interest me at all and you guys should know that when all fighting and/or running scenes become boring for me, then there is seriously something wrong. At places, the plot become very vague and confusing . I still can't understand why Lucera ran away from the shadowshapers at the first place (this isn't a spoiler) and I don't get why was the villian basically a villian either. These are pretty basic questions and I don't think it's made clear. There were so many deaths occuring and I just couldn't bring myself to care about any of them.FINAL VERDICT: Great idea, very poor execution. I am still very curious about the second part since I'm a sucker for these beautiful covers. I hope it's less painful and less boring then this one.

  • Justine
    2019-04-26 14:27

    4.5 stars I listened to this as an audiobook and, wow, I'm tacking on an extra half star because the narration was just that good. The main character is of Puerto Rican descent, living in Brooklyn, and the narrator did a fantastic job with everything fron urban accented teen-speak to native Spanish words.The story was just so rich and multilayered, dealing with questions of identity, family, and social status. Gentrification and the role of culture and colour are brought into play as well, but all of this is done without making this book a book "about" that. Those elements are what make up the daily mix of living and provide the canvas for the story; a story about a family in peril with their heritage of magic and supernatural ability on the verge of being lost.I also have to mention the cover, because not only is it one of my all time favourite covers ever, it really does reflect the heart of the story here. I can't wait to read the upcoming sequel, Shadowhouse Fall.

  • Rincey
    2019-05-01 22:42

    This book is good, but I wasn't overly in love with it. It is a really quick read, but that means that it does not have a lot of deep character development or even deep explanation of the magic system or deep world building, which is a bit disappointing. And there are definitely parts that feel a bit convenient to the plot in order to keep the pacing up. But overall this was a positive reading experience and I recommend this book if you like young adult fantasy.

  • Sydnee
    2019-04-27 19:33

    So Daniel José Older basically just said, "Fuck your white sensibilities" and poured spoiled mayonnaise all over them. And I'm here for it, obviously. I'm a pretty prolific reader, but I can honestly say I've hardly read books that addressed *one* social justice issue, let alone as many as Older does. I'm probably missing some, but there's talk or depiction of: police brutality, gentrification, white apathy, cultural appropriation, misogyny, colorism, ancestral memory, anti-blackness, respectability politics, and street harassment. And this is all in the context of an urban fantasy for young adults. And it works. Ya'll have NO excuse. But as rich and subversive as Older's world is, finishing the book left me with a huge feeling of "not quite." Yes, this part was great and that one too, but I found myself backtracking a lot, feeling like there was some small piece of the experience I was missing. The text was at once moving too quickly and plodding too slowly, so I couldn't really sink my teeth into it. Robbie and Sierra didn't really move me as a couple, either. This stuff is really dense and I think Shadowshaper would find its stride more as a series, but I didn't get the impression that it would become one from the ending. I usually hate series books, but this would be one I would root for.All that said, wanting more is never a bad thing. Older's vivid and visceral prose and his ambitious story definitely will start a conversation, and the scene where Sierra reads her aunt for filth was worth the price of the book alone (although I maintain that, whether her family IDs as black or not, she still would've gotten popped in the mouth for that). More of this, please, publishing industry.UPDATE: I know there's a sequel now! And it's already on my wishlist. :D

  • Book Riot Community
    2019-05-19 19:20

    I listened to the audiobook narrated by Anika Noni Rose, and it is spectacular. Older creates a new experience by combining the YA UF structure we all know and love with a culturally-rich setting, steeped in spiritual tradition and diverse heritage. Sierra is a wonderful heroine. I know you’ve heard about this book from other Rioters, because that’s how I became interested in it, but let me add my voice to the chorus saying: this book is amazing. I’ve been telling everybody I talk to about it. –Sarah Nicolasfrom The Best Books We Read In August 2016:

  • Erin
    2019-05-12 21:31

    I love this book!I don't know why this book series isn't more hyped. I vaguely remember hearing about Shadowshaper when it first came out but then I didn't hear anything else. In fact I didn't even know the second book had already been released. I can only assume this book series isn't bigger because its characters are all unapologetically Afro-Latino and I loved it. Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older is part fast paced magical action adventure and part love letter to Brooklyn and the Afro-Latino community. This book is so much fun and I loved the writing style, Older writes the way actual urban kids talk, not the way television tells us they talk. I felt like I know the characters in this book and felt like I was walking the ever changing streets of Brooklyn with them. Sierra our heroine isn't annoying like most "Chosen Ones" in fantasy novels, she doesn't deny or fight her gift and she doesn't spend 75% of the book making stupid mistakes. She willing steps into her gift and actually seeks out ways to be better. I want to add another aspect of the book I loved, this book is one of the rare books to discuss colorism in the black and brown community. I don't know why more books especially those written by people of color don't discuss this. I loved that it was an important storyline in this book. I'm recommending Shadowshaper to everyone. I love this book!

  • Andrea McDowell
    2019-05-17 16:22

    Its heart was in the right place.I loved the author's ability to situate the story within a diverse New York, and all of his sly commentary on racism and sexism (though the sexism feels tacked-on). I love the idea behind the story. But the execution just didn't do it for me.For one thing, the stakes of the destruction of the shadowshapers were never made clear enough, early enough in the story to motivate readers. In most fantasy novels the author makes it pretty clear that the protagonist's failure will mean the end of the world, but it doesn't need to be this dramatic. An imminent break-up or divorce, illness, job loss, failure--something. Anything. Instead, for most of the book, it seems that if Sierra fails a couple of guys she doesn't know might die (and they end up dying anyway) and her life will go on just as it did before she got involved. The characters are two-dimensional. The plot doesn't make sense. For example, a mysterious Someone is leaking information about Sierra's plans to the evil Wick. She's convinced it's Nydia. Accordingly, she goes off, finds Nydia, and threatens her with a fire extinguisher. Nydia convinces Sierra it's not her, so instead they go off together to threaten the Bad Guys. OK, so who was the leak then? This is never resolved. Or when Manny is killed. They go to find Manny. Manny's dead body is found. Then Manny's dead body becomes Not Quite Dead. They call the police; the police show up; there is no dead body. Major freak out! They head out to a club where Sierra's brother is playing, to make sure he's ok. Since the music is catchy, they forget all about Manny, and start dancing. An unrelated fight breaks out; they stop dancing, have a two-minute conversation, and chase off to Coney Island to confront the Bad Guys without preparation. It's just not at all convincing. People don't act this way, at least not without major brain damage.The idea of it is very cool, and it could have been a really good book.

  • Liz Overberg
    2019-04-24 17:23

    I'm not sure how to review this book. in terms of plotting, cheesy teen romance, and characterization, this was a one star. As in, painful. Like, a textbook example of what people are making fun of when they make fun of a book like Twilight . However the paranormal elements were fairly unique, with spirits ("shadows") that take on a corporeal or 3-D form when guided by a "Shadowshaper." I thought that was pretty cool, and I hadn't read anything like that before. So I'm throwing on half a star for originality. Where this book really shines is in its diversity, which is positive and authentic! From the old Bronx neighborhood where the kids live, to the inclusion of Hispanic (mainly Puerto Rican) and Haitian culture, to a teenage lesbian couple, there's a lot to appreciate here. And none of it is forced. When Sierra, the main character, thinks about her hair texture or her skin color, it feels like a natural and important part of her story. I don't feel like I'm being beat over the head by an author who wants to show how politically correct he is. But, all that cultural diversity, and even the best cover of the year!, don't take away from the cheese, the predictability, and the complete lack of characterization. So this one gets a whole star for diversity, half a star for originality, and I'll throw on a bonus half star because it was blessedly short. Recommended for teenage readers looking for multicultural fantasy.

  • jv poore
    2019-05-09 22:26

    To be sure, when a “random old white dude” fancies himself as THE anthropologist guru of urban spirituality systems, and thusly thrusts himself into the mythology of the shadowshapers; no good can come from it. Oddly, the offended fury of the spirits and entities enraged by his pompous presumptions pales in comparison to the wrath our plucky Puerto Rican narrator. Sierra is tougher-than-nails-kinder-than-a-kitten, cajoling the reader to dive in and hang with her and the vibrant, charismatic, tightly-knit crew that beautify their Brooklyn with gorgeous graffiti art and energetic, enchanting rap battles.“She inhaled and the world caught its breath; exhaled and a tidal wave of space emptied out around her.”In the quest to find the archetypal spirit Lucera, Sierra’s stumbling blocks signify social issues of today. The answer to her original query, why shadowshapers aren’t well known, is sad but true: “people don’t see what they’re not looking for.” The Columbia librarian, coincidentally examining the very anthropologists that study the spirit worlds, reminds us of potential fallacies when making snap judgments. The horrendous havoc following Lucera’s disappearance is, disappointingly, confirmation that no one realized how crucial she was…..until she was gone. Mr. Older artfully unravels urban spirituality lore in a mesmerizing mystery that feels fascinatingly fresh, crisply colorful and invigorating; while simultaneously seeming familiar, somewhat nostalgic. The dazzling dialogue amuses and delights. Initially, Shadowshapers can be gobbled up….an indulgent, pleasure-filled immersion. Soon, though, subtle layers leap into the reader, like spirits into shadowshapers’ murals, conveying hope, inspiration and a calming, centering of the soul. “The true source of shadowshaper magic is that connection, community…we are interdependent.”I applaud absolutely every part of this courageous, bold book and recommend it to essentially every reader, Middle-Grade and beyond. Undoubtedly, I’ll be bouncing around the room for my Shadowshaper Book Talk when I encourage my beloved High School English classes to check this out. Tomes tailored to the open and hungry minds of our young adults build bridges and embolden the youth to join like-minded, Not-So-Much Young Adults. This review was written for Buried Under Books Blog.UPDATE: I have the sequel: Shadowhouse Fall, in my hot little hands right now!8/31/17

  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    2019-05-01 16:34

    *3.5/5 Full spoiler free video review to come!

  • Rose
    2019-05-17 21:32

    Initial reaction: One of my favorite reads this year so far. I loved this book so much. The MC had a strong voice and the overarching storyline was imaginative and exciting. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.Full review:I'll admit I saw this book on the shelf at my library and was completely taken by cover lust. If you also want a different experience than reading the physical book, the audio version is wonderfully read by Anika Noni Rose (I ended up purchasing this from Audible because I loved the book so much.)I think one of the things that I can say off the bat about this book's collective experience was that it was so much fun to read and very imaginative. I haven't read any of Daniel Jose Older's work before this point, but my experience with "Shadowshaper" makes me want to read more. The story revolves around a young woman named Sierra who descends from a long line of "Shadowshapers": those who can magically manipulate the art they create. Sierra's ill grandfather suddenly snaps out of his near comatose state, begging Siera to finish a mural that she notices has come to life and is quickly fading away. She doesn't understand what it means at first, but a rich history and harrowing adventure unfolds as Sierra discovers not only her hidden abilities but a rich and dynamic family history that was kept hidden from her because of the rising conflicts between members of her family. I really enjoyed Sierra's strongly asserted voice and the dynamic characters that I came to know in this book. Even the romantic angles of the story were well-developed and in a dynamic I was rooting for throughout the story. It's the kind of tale that I wish more YA novels had the depth and development to tell. Plus, the multicultural cast, lore and history really sets this book apart from many of its peers.I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.Overall score: 4.5/5 stars.

  • Allison
    2019-05-04 14:21

    LOVED THIS SO MUCH. FINALLY BROOKLYN PORTRAYED IN A FANTASY NOVEL AS IT REALLY IS, MULTIRACIAL AND MULTICULTURAL!There's a great conversation where Sierra and her friends are debating hipsters vs yuppies, and casually discussing gentrification in general. Sierra is a fucking fabulous protagonist. It was refreshing to see her having to deal with some real city shit like street harassment, and heartbreaking to witness her dealing with things such as her aunt's constant horrible colorist digs. This book also addresses many of the things I dislike about cultural anthropology (namely it being a mostly white field and the shit that inevitably leads to). The atmosphere is A+ and there was a truly authentic teen vibe, especially in the party scenes. Basically, this is a really fun fantasy book with some cute romance, beautiful action sequences, and a gorgeous, confident, likeable protagonist, AND also a book that isn't afraid to tackle some real issues.

  • Nathan Bransford
    2019-05-06 20:32

    This is a special book for me, I worked with Daniel on some early drafts way back when I was an agent. It's awesome to see how "Shadowshaper" came together -- Daniel crafts a new mythology for Brooklyn, full of animated paintings, spirits, and some seriously cool teen protagonists. It's exciting to see this book come to life.

  • Carly
    2019-05-06 14:35

    "Who gets to study and who gets studied, and why? Who makes the decisions, you know?"Shadowshaper brings richer cadences to a familiar tune. Many aspects are familiar to readers of urban fantasy and young adult: a secret world of magic, a naive heroine who discovers her own unique powers, and burgeoning romance. However, Older describes a fuller, more vibrant city than the standard cookie-cutter urban fantasy fare: the mixing and clash of cultures, mutual distrust with interloping police, stark contrasts in race and socioeconomic status huddled side by side, and deepening tensions over gentrification. One of the central themes of the story is the line between respect for other cultures and appropriation.Cultural heritage pervades the very magic of Shadowshaper: while the mechanism may be newer, the magic itself embraces tradition. With the magic of a shadowshaper, street art can literally come to life. Shadowshapers can paint forms that spirits--ghosts of the departed as well as other more elemental forces-- can inhabit. But recently, something has been going wrong: shadowshapers are disappearing or losing their minds, murals are losing their vibrancy, and haints are stalking the streets. Sierra Santiago may be new to the world of shadowshapers, but she soon finds herself an integral part in the race to save them. Somehow, her hunt hinges upon finding a white academic who disappeared while studying the shadowshapers and their traditions. And this itself becomes one of the key questions of the book. As one character puts it, "Who gets to study and who gets studied, and why? Who makes the decisions, you know?"In one of my favourite discussions of the issue, Sierra's friend decides to turn the tables: "If this Wick cat do all this research about Sierra's grandpa and all his Puerto Rican spirits, I don't see why I can't write a book about his people. Imma call it Hipster vs. Yuppie: A Culturalpological Study." (view spoiler)[When Wick first appeared on the scene, the single white man in the photograph, I was intrigued: I wondered if Older was going to explore the ways in which an academic coming in and absorbing and then judging people could go so terribly wrong. It was intensely satisfying, if predictable from the first scene, for the villain to be the embodiment of the hubris of appropriation. It's not a message that is often voiced, but it is one that desperately needs to be spoken. Older doesn't pull his punches: “Your abuelo was responsible for the destruction of the shadowshapers. I’m trying to save them. You don’t understand any of this, Sierra. This is not your world.”“It is my world!” Sierra’s voice reverberated down alleyways and out toward the sea. Each of the myriad swirling spirits inside her spoke the words too. “And you tried to take it from me. Tried to tear my own heritage away.” (hide spoiler)]Sierra is a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, and much of her own teenage angst deals with her discomfort over societal stereotypes, racism, and sexism, even from her own family. Her aunt, in particular, criticizes her "nappy" hair and her interest in a Cuban boy, warning her to stay away from boys who are "Darker than the bottom of your foot." From one of my favourite scenes: "Once when she was chatting with some stupid boy online, she described herself as the color of coffee with not enough milk. [...] The worst part about it, the part she couldn’t let go of, was that the thought came from her. Not from one of the teachers or guidance counselors whose eyes said it again and again over sticky-sweet smiles. Not from some cop on Marcy Avenue or Tía Rosa. It came from somewhere deep inside her. And that meant that for all the times she’d shrugged off one of those slurs, some little tentacle of them still crawled its way toward her heart. Not enough milk. Not light enough. Morena. Negra. No matter what she did, that little voice came creeping back, persistent and unsatisfied.Not enough." Racism isn't simply something Sierra experiences from her family; it's all around her, accosting her from the media, from her family, from the second looks she gets walking in the "gentrified" parts of town, from her own eyes when she looks in a mirror. And her journey towards self-acceptance is learning to push back against those who wish to mold her into their ideal, to see herself as enough. As she tells her aunt: I don’t care about your stupid neighborhood gossip or your damn opinions about everyone around you and how dark they are or how kinky their hair is. You ever look in the mirror, Tia?"You ever look at those old family albums Mom keeps around?” Sierra went on. “We ain’t white. And you shaming everyone and looking down your nose because you can’t even look in the mirror isn’t gonna change that. And neither is me marrying someone paler than me. And I’m glad. I love my hair. I love my skin.”Shadowshaper is easily one of the most interesting and meaningful YA books I've read in years. If you're a fan of urban fantasy, young adult fiction, or simply books that embrace vibrant diversity, Shadowshaper is well worth a look.

  • Mari
    2019-04-24 19:17

    I talk about this book in this mini reading wrap-up video!I was following Older on social media before I picked up this book, so I'm going to say that I was predisposed to liking it. I was ready to love this and... I didn't. I think it's almost more disappointing because all of the potential was there, but I just felt like there was a lack of depth, in terms of plot and characters, that kept me at an arm's length from the story overall. I really did like the characters as they were introduced and there were so many things about the community and family that I thought were relatable to me, which is always fun to encounter in fiction. There isn't a ton of character progression, though, and that is felt more keenly on top of a plot that seems a little too patched together. Again, I liked the premise and the world, but then things started to come apart a little bit from there. It often felt like the next thing that came in the plot was either too convenient or too much out of left field. That's what I mean by "patched together." One of the best things about this books is perhaps also one of the worst. It was an incredibly quick read and while that certainly makes for an entertaining reading experience, it also served to enhance that feeling I had that this book could've done a little more or gone a little deeper. The main character is great, but it feels like we rush right by ever side-character and every villain. I could tell you the premise of this book, but it would be more difficult to explain what happened on from there, but I'm not entirely sure...Even with all that, I still found this entertaining, interesting and full of potential. There were moments of magic that were described so wonderfully and vividly that I got lost in the scene completely. I will definitely read more from Older, as I think he's got talent. I hope he gives his other stories or his next story a little more room to grow and breathe.

  • Richard Denney
    2019-05-23 18:41

    I can't do it. I'm just not in the mood to read this. I got 55 pages in and I don't want to ruin it for myself so I'm gonna put it on my shelf and get back into it when I'm in the mood for sure. So far it was pretty good.- Richard

  • Adam Silvera
    2019-04-25 16:31

    Great book by a great guy!

  • Kelly
    2019-04-27 20:28

    This is a fun urban fantasy with a realistic teen girl main character and a story that's ultimately about art, heritage, and ownership of culture. I loved Sierra, I loved the little moments that really "set" the story in today's world and in today's world for teens who live in a place like Brooklyn -- there's light street harassment, the pressures to look a certain way (in Sierra's case, a moment of reflecting on being considered "too light"), and there's a lot here about community and culture and how those things are so important, ESPECIALLY in a place where you can feel like one body in a sea of millions. The romance between Sierra and Robbie was so, so good. This is totally chaste, but the moments of Sierra thinking about Robbie and the ways in which she approached/interacted with him were realistically teen and yet completely swoon-y. They had chemistry in a way that wasn't front and center but in a way that was just there and growing throughout their time on the page. Teen readers will love this, especially those who might be more reluctant and those who want something fun, fast paced, and different. There's adventure, an appreciation of art and creation, and it's an absolutely true look at the color of our world -- I mean that in every possible way. Shadowshaper is completely appropriate for younger teen readers, too. Weirdly, this felt like the kind of book fans of Supernatural might like quite a bit. The mythology and storytelling elements, along with the value of setting, were reminiscent. Of course, Older does much better by his female characters and his characters of color (do you know how refreshing it is to read a book where there's not a white person?)And A+ on Nydia as a character all around. When Sierra had a revelation about her, I suddenly got her character and role much, much more.

  • Lata
    2019-05-14 15:30

    I love the cover of this book. That girl with the glorious hair looking straight at the viewer, and not smiling. Love this cover.This YA book was a fast read, and was about a teen, Sierra, discovering a supernatural world that surrounded her, and her family's relationship with magic and spirits. It was also a book about a girl figuring out herself, what matters to her and how others perceive her based on how she looks. It's also a book about friendship. Sierra's friends are lively and open and supportive. Family was another facet of this story; how family supports you, how family can let you down. And though there is a boy that Sierra interacts with, the relationship evolved, and wasn't super melodramatic or disrespectful.The supernatural world revealed to Sierra was interesting, though the magical rules are not described in detail. Sierra learns bits and pieces, and I really appreciated how Sierra relies on friends and family to help her deal with this aspect of her life. (I loved Sierra's godfather, and Nydia the librarian.)I also liked all the little details that the author mentioned that made Sierra's and her friends' lives in their little corner of New York feel real. Their neighbourhood appeared to be under change, with gentrification bringing in expensive coffee shops and other stores, changing some of the colour and feel of the streets.There were also some dark aspects to their lives. Sierra's best friend, Bennie, had a brother who had had a goofy smile, who had also been killed by police. And Bennie was still dealing with that. Sierra and her friends also had a legitimate distrust of the police. Sierra's grandfather hadn't respected Sierra enough to tell her about some of the real dangers she was facing from the supernatural side of her heritage, because she was a girl. I liked this story, and I liked Sierra and her circle.

  • Sophie
    2019-05-24 22:29

    Aaaah this was so good!So many women in this book! PoC! Lesbians! Actual urban fantasy! Street art that comes to life! Brooklyn! Tattoos! Dancing! Spirits!So you know how George R.R. Martin has that whole thing about fantasy and reality and how reality is so much more boring? "Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot." Look, I see where he's coming from with this, but I've always thought that the strip malls of Burbank or whatever COULD be as awesome and fantastic as the halls of Camelot. People just don't write them that way.Anyway, this book takes the setting of present-day Brooklyn and turns it into a fantasy landscape while at the same time appreciating it for exactly what it is. In your FACE, Martin.

  • Dakota★Magic in Every Book
    2019-05-19 14:27

    Shadowshaper is a book bursting with energy, creativity, culture, and diversity. The book takes Caribbean culture and myth and shapes it into a new and interesting urban fantasy. The story focuses a lot of Sierra’s family, her community, her heritage as Puerto Rican, and the strength and magic that comes from her bloodline and culture. This book was deftly put together, even touching on topics like colorism, gentrification, and cultural appropriation. The shadowshaper mythology itself is a wonderful exploration of art, spirits, heritage, and honestly, it’s just damn nifty! I won’t go into too much detail because part of the fun is discovering it along with Sierra, but it’s the idea of infusing a spirit into art and bringing to life. The scenes with this were fun and I would love to see it done on TV show or movie!Sierra is a really well-done female lead. She unapologetically loves herself, her community, and her heritage. While she struggles with self-esteem due to societal racism and pressures, Sierra is able to deal and realistically fight to always love herself and who she is. She also has a lot of agency and initiative. Sierra actively seeks to solve the puzzles and mystery she discovers and never waits around for a plot point to conveniently show up. The other big half of the story is Robbie, a tall Haitian student at Sierra’s school, and her love interest. I deeply love Robbie because he blows all the generic pushy YA male love interests away. Robbie is shy, awkward, sweet, respectful, and while he makes mistakes and doesn’t always think things through, he is just a good guy who is trying his best. He never pushes Sierra to do anything she doesn’t want to, he apologizes when he’s wrong, and he’s adorably nervous when they spend time together. He is gentle and wonderful and I really want more love interests like him in Young Adult books. The rest of the book’s cast is memorable but not as explored and I hope we see more of Sierra’s friends in the next book!Earlier I described Shadowshaper as bursting with energy. The book is fast paced and continually keeps the story interesting. The book starts off immediately with action, and the flow of action to information was well done and kept me thoroughly glued to the book. Older introduces us to an engaging story with both magical and real-life issues neatly combined, well-done teen characters and an excellent female protagonist, and an energy that draws you in. I can’t wait for the sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, which comes out this September!

  • Lindsay
    2019-05-25 20:24

    A action-packed urban fantasy from a cultural tradition that you don't normally see in this genre.Sierra Santiago is a Brooklyn-native of Puerto Rican extraction who gets involved in some family magic that she's been deliberately kept ignorant of. Shadowshaping is magic involving spirits of the dead and artwork that's a tradition in her family and parts of her community. But something is going dreadfully wrong and she has to master her family's magic and put things right with the help of her friends.This is YA urban fantasy pared down to its outlines with gobs of interesting cultural stuff piled on. The plot is relentless from the beginning and it's quite surprising that there's any time at all to pick up as much about the other characters as you do. It's also interesting from my point of view, as the only spanish-speaking culture I have much contact with is Filipino and that's nothing like the Caribbean cultures on show here. It would have been nice to get a bit more. Sierra is an interesting character, but I don't get any idea from this book what she wants to do with her life. I'd like to have heard more about Nydia and her Columbia librarianship as well and it would have been interesting to see where Robbie was headed as well. Oh well, maybe in a sequel ...Would recommend to readers who like their urban fantasy fast.

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-05-01 18:46

    Shadowshaper is one of the most original and artistic urban fantasy books I've ever read. Full of unforgettable characters and an imaginative plot, it's one that any reader can find something to admire in the pages.

  • Camille
    2019-05-18 22:30

    10 stars. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. A truly powerful read for me!Second favourite book of all.And Anika Noni Rose did a wonderfully, fantastic job narrating.

  • YupIReadIt
    2019-05-01 18:20

    I wish this book were around when I was this age.... it would have helped me so much