Tuesday 19 September 2017

Book Review: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Title: A Skinful of Shadows                      Author: Frances Hardinge                    Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books      Release Date: 21st September 2017  Synopsis: This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide. Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.And now there's a spirit inside her.The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.

Review: This was one of those books where you read the blub and go, I need to read this book, I need to know what happens! Then you see that BEAUTiful cover and you know there is something special there. 

I initialy read the sampler on Netgalley, which is blooming cheeky let me just say, because I was then left with this crippling WHAT NEXT feeling. How could you do that guys! But at the time of writing this review have now just finished the book in its entirety and have that warm tingling feeling! There was so much to love about this book and it played up to a lot of my interests. It covered History, Ghosts, witchcraft with such a strong female character! 

I do remember first reading the sample and being like what the f kinda name is Makepeace, but it made such perfect sense as the book evolved, and is perfectly historically situationally appropriate. I apologise for that sentence. I loved how this book in may ways was strong historical fiction, without actually being so, nor forcing it upon you. You got the history and the tensions that the country was facing through Makepeace's journey and the real people that this was affecting. One of the most fascinating things I love about this period is the superstitions that people help. Things like putting two dead pigeons under a dying mans feet. Who does that! But I love reading about them. It opens up the ideologies of that era in such a fantastic way makes your really think about the way the world has changed and in many ways that time was such a made up story for me, whilst actually existing...but i'm digressing. 

You very much root for Makepeace from the get go! Katherine Webber hit this on the head perfectly. Makepeace gives us these Lyra vibes. The whole thing was quite Pullman-esq, and that is a very good thing. She is a very endearing character. Strong willed, feisty. She is a survivor. She has a god moral compass and willing to stand up for what she believes in. James was this cheeky chappy, he was the perfect partner in crime, and I very much wanted to hug him rather than berate him. You understood why he did what he did, you could feel his wanting and its a feeling i think we can all relate to! The Fellmottes were a rotten lot, the perfect antithesis the story needed. Down with the Fellmottes indeed! 

Now this might be crossing into spoiler territory so if you don't want to know i'd skip this paragraph, or better yet pick up a copy finish the book and then read on. The idea of the possession of the spirits was fantastic. I also LOVVEEED the bear. They had this beautiful relationship, he gave her more bite when she needed it and I felt myself cheering at these moments. I know a bear is obviously large, but it's crazy how I actually felt the size of his presence! You really felt their connection, like they had fused into one being, and just like Makepeace only felt him when he was awake, I felt a bit like I was a spirit in her head and only sensed him when he was awake. That is some next level reading writing experience there. I didn't know where the book would go from here, but I didn't expect Makepeace to pick up a whole hoard of spirits. This took things to that next level, fleshed out the plot, gave it an extra level of depth and allows Hardinge to have some fun with her characters. They all had such strong, realised personalities, there was humour there was drama and that all added to the story, adding these layers of depth to the action.  

I think the only problem that I have is that I've now finished the book. I don't want to have finished the book, I want more from Makepeace, and I think that is the mark of a strong book. 


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