Monday, October 23, 2017

ARC Review: Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older

Title: Shadowhouse Fall
Series: Shadowshaper Cipher #2
Written by: Daniel Jose Older
Published: September 5, 2017 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Shadowhouse rising

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light—an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The Deck tracks the players and powers of all the magical houses in the city, and when the real Hound begins to stalk Sierra through the streets, the shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

Worlds in revolution

Sierra and Shadowhouse have been thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new—a struggle they didn’t want, but are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds…or else she could lose all the things that matter most.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. *****

Despite loving the first book and having an ARC of this one I took my sweet time to read this one. And like the first book I really wish I had read it sooner because it was a fantastic sequel and a great read.

One of my favorite things about this series is the fantasy world. I’m always looking for a unique and engaging fantasy world and this is one that is unlike anything I have seen before. Shadowshaping is so interesting and everything we learn about it has been intrigued and entertained. In Shadowhouse Fall the author does a great job building on the world that was established in the first book and expanding it. After the events of the last we book we get all new shadowshapers and some of them even very different ways that their powers manifest which were totally fascinating. Not to mention that we learned more about the larger world and how shadowshaping places into it. There were some really cool new aspects of that in this book and I’m excited to learn about that even more with the third book.

I also really like the characters in this series. It’s a book with a fantastic diverse characters which explores their culture and their place in the world. In the course of two books I have become incredibly connected to them and their struggles. In particular Sierra is a great main character. She’s one of those characters that is smart and resourceful and constantly comes out on top but at the same time she has this vulnerability about her. She cares so much about others and I love that about her. It’s one of the reasons she makes such a great leader and a good main character.

But the book also has a lot of really good secondary characters. I do feel a little bit like most of them didn’t get the chance to shine in this book like they did in the first book in the series but that’s okay. We were introduced, or well the role of one character was expanded here and that was Anthony or Pulpo. I really liked what the author did with this character. He handled his mental health situation really well. And honestly I related so much to him and what he was going through that it was really nice to see someone going through what I go through handled in such a great way. But there are plenty of other really good secondary characters here that I hope get the time that they deserve in the final book in the series.

As far as the plot goes, this is a book that does a really good job of balancing real life with fantasy. It definitely felt like a plot driven story as things developed in the world that the characters had to deal with which I appreciated. And those things were incredibly topical and appropriate for what teenagers today are dealing with, especially teenagers of color living in the city. This book didn’t shy away from the more serious issues but it also didn’t feel forced or overly political. It made you think, it made you empathize, and it kept you entertained. That, to me, is the mark of a good book. At times it did get a little convoluted as it tried to connect the two but it surprisingly came together in the end in a way that surprised and interested me. I’m excited to see where things go because I have a feeling the last book in the series is going to have some really interesting places to take the plot based on where things left off and what is happening in the world today.

I thoroughly enjoyed Shadowhouse Fall. It is a great example of a low fantasy that balances a fascinating and unique magical system with current and important social commentary. Plus it’s entertaining along the way. I’m invested in the world, I’m invested in the characters, I’m invested in the plot, I’m invested in what happens next.

I give Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you liked the first book in the series then you must read this one. And if you haven’t read this series I totally recommend it. It’s a really engrossing diverse fantasy that I think fans of the genre or anyone trying it for the first time will enjoy.

Have you read Shadowhouse Fall? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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