Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

shadowshaperOver at the Book Lust blog, Aarti put out the challenge to make our reading a More Diverse Universe or #Diversiverse for short. The only rule of #Diversiverse is to read ONE book by a person of color between October 4th and 17th, then write a review. That’s it.  I invite you all to participate.

My pick for #Diversiverse was Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older.  Originally, I had heard about this book from a Book Riot review, and moved it to the top of my TBR when I saw that the stars had aligned for my library to have my hold available during #Diversiverse. I am not usually a reader of magical realism or urban fantasy so I was excited to try something new.

Shadowshaper is a look into the world of Sierra Santiago, a Puerto Rican girl living in Brooklyn. She’s an amazing artist who has been given the gift of Shadowshaping, that is bringing works of art to life through a connection with the spirit world. As she learns about what it means to be a Shadowshaper; she makes the connection that a group of Shadowshapers who hung out with her abuelo, before his stroke, are dying off one by one. Sierra teams up with her friends, including a potential romantic interest in fellow artist Robbie, to figure out what is happening and how she can put an end to it before they come for her. 

This is a great book dealing with so many issues; racism, sexism, cultural appropriation, etc all while we see Sierra come of age with her new found abilities. Older knows how to write about these issues in such realistic detail they were like a punch in the gut. Although as a white person, I could not directly relate to the both microaggressions and overt issues with race, I certainly recognized them and could feel the hurt. His writing of a couple of street harassment incidents, which I definitely have experienced as a woman, actually made me shiver. One of the overarching themes is cultural appropriation as we see what happens when a white, male professor intrudes into the traditions of the Shadowshapers.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. It is marketed as Young Adult, but I feel there is so much folks of all ages can get out of reading Shadowshaper. Also, judge this book by its cover, because isn’t it absolutely beautiful?

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