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A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge Review

Title: A Skinful of Shadows

Author: Frances Hardinge

First published September 1, 2017

416 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9781419725722 (ISBN10: 1419725726)

Rating: 3.98


In Frances Hardinge’s A Skinful of Shadows, we meet twelve-year-old Makepeace, a girl who has learned to protect herself from the ghosts that haunt her every night. But when a tragic event causes her to let her guard down, she finds herself possessed by a wild and powerful spirit.

As she is sent to live with her wealthy and mysterious ancestors during a time of civil war, Makepeace must navigate the dangerous politics of her family while struggling to control the spirit inside of her. With her life on the line, she must decide whether to fight for possession or risk everything for her freedom.

This haunting and gripping tale will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

About the Author

Frances Hardinge’s childhood was spent in a large, solitary old house situated in an unusual, tiny village. These unique surroundings sparked her passion for crafting enchanting, otherworldly tales at a young age.

After studying English at Oxford University, she currently resides in Oxford, England.

Editoral Review

Frances Hardinges A Skinful of Shadows is a dark and haunting addition to the young adult fantasy genre. This gripping novel challenges readers to confront their own fears and prejudices, while weaving an imaginative tale that is both otherworldly and strikingly relatable.

The book, first published on September 1, 2017, has already garnered acclaim for its originality and emotional depth. Hardinge is a British author who has won numerous awards for her work, including the Costa Book Award and the Carnegie Medal.

She has been praised for her ability to create fully realized worlds that are both strange and captivating, and A Skinful of Shadows is no exception. The book combines elements of historical fiction, magic realism, and Gothic horror, resulting in a novel that is at once familiar and unsettling.

The story of A Skinful of Shadows follows the life of Makepeace, a young girl growing up in England during the 17th century. Makepeace possesses a unique ability that sets her apart from other children: she has the power to house ghosts within her own body.

This gift is both a blessing and a curse, as Makepeace is constantly haunted by the spirits she carries. When Makepeaces mother dies, she is thrust into a world of danger and intrigue, as she must navigate the treacherous waters of politics and power to protect herself and her loved ones.

Hardinges skill with character development is evident in her portrayal of Makepeace. The protagonist is a complex and compelling figure, with a rich history and a deeply felt sense of empathy.

Makepeace is not simply a victim of circumstance; she is an active participant in her own life, and her journey is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. The books setting is also expertly crafted, with vivid descriptions of 17th century England that transport the reader back in time.

Hardinge pays close attention to historical detail, fleshing out the world with careful research and masterful prose. Her depiction of the political climate of the era is particularly well done, offering a nuanced look at the power struggles that shaped the nation.

Despite its strengths, A Skinful of Shadows does have some weaknesses. The pacing of the book is at times uneven, with certain scenes feeling rushed or underdeveloped.

Similarly, some of the minor characters are not as well fleshed out as Makepeace, and their motivations can be difficult to discern. However, these flaws are minor in comparison to the books larger vision.

Hardinges exploration of themes such as identity, power, and belonging is both thought-provoking and timely. Her careful examination of the ways in which society seeks to control and manipulate those who are different shows a deep understanding of the human condition, and her insistence on the importance of empathy offers a glimmer of hope in an often bleak world.

In conclusion, A Skinful of Shadows is a must-read for fans of young adult fantasy and historical fiction. Its dynamic characters, rich setting, and thought-provoking themes make it a standout novel that offers both entertainment and food for thought.

While not without its flaws, the book is a testament to Hardinges skill as a writer and her commitment to creating stories that challenge and inspire. The Washington Post highly recommends A Skinful of Shadows, and gives it 4.5 stars out of 5.