Daniel José Older magnificently infuses magic, culture and heritage with typical elements of fantasy.
Set in Brooklyn, Shadowshaper introduces a fierce teen heroine to the Urban Fantasy literary scene. The book centers around Sierra Santiago, a budding Latino artist faced with the challenge of harnessing the power of art to save her community. I loved the urban backdrop combined with a cast of rich, diverse teen characters.
Shadowshaper opens with Sierra noticing something odd; one of the murals in her neighborhood is changing. The painting of her grandfather’s late friend, Papa Acevedo, appears to be crying and Manny, another close friend of her grandfather, keeps pushing her to complete her largest mural project to date. Fast forward to a meeting with stroke-stricken Grandpa Lazaro who tells Sierra that she must save the shadowshapers with the help of fellow artist, Robbie, but can he really be trusted? We learn that shadowshapers are visual artists who create real, living, breathing works of art with magic. Unbeknownst to her, Sierra comes from the ruling family of shadowshapers and she is tasked with saving her legacy from forces of evil with the help of her friends. Sierra loves her family and her neighborhood, but she doesn’t understand why the adults in her life choose to keep such important secrets from her.
Daniel José Older magnificently infuses magic, culture and heritage with typical elements of fantasy. This book is full of strong female characters and Sierra draws her strength from them. I highly recommend this book to fans of YA Urban Fantasy authors like Cassandra Clare and Laini Taylor.