A Review: Shadowshaper



Author: Daniel José Older
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015; 297 p.

Min/Max Grade level: 9 – 12

VOYA codes: 4Q, 2P, S

Locus Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Book
Andre Award Winner
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Adult Literature
Kirkus Prize Finalist for Young Readers’ Literature


I’ll admit, the cover of this book appealed to me, and was my first reason for selecting it.

Murals are weeping and fading in Sierra Santiago’s Puerto Rican neighborhood in (Bed-Stuy)Brooklyn. The teenager is being pursued by a frightening man who knows her name, and some of the neighborhood elders including her grandfather, are dying. She learns that they are called Shadowshapers, and they use the murals to connect with spirits. Her friend Robbie, is an artist and muralist, and – along with her other friends – helps her search for the magical Lucera to help put an end to the mystery and murder.

Shadowshapers (and the second book, Shadowhouse Fall) is a good selection for your teen collection. It is exciting, complex, and fast-paced, and will appeal to teens looking for a good fantasy novel. The dialog is realistic, at times humorous, and well written. There is Spanish language interspersed in the dialog, and mostly (though once or twice I could not figure out what they were saying using context clues) it is understandable. This is a coming of age book wrapped in fantasy, and deals with teen issues without being didactic or obvious.

Appeal Factors:
Storyline: Magic, supernatural, good and evil, spirits
Character: Culturally diverse, strong female, Puerto Rican, artists
Pace: Fast-paced
Tone: Suspenseful, atmospheric
Writing Style: Dialog driven, dialect-filled

Read or Listen-alikes (recommended by NovelistPlus)
Common appeal factors – teenagers, strong female, magical/supernatural fiction, suspense:
Shadowhouse Fall
Shadowhouse Fall  Daniel José Older
The Raven Boys
The Raven Series Maggie Stiefvater





Older, D. (2015). Shadowshaper. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.

Horning, K. (2010). From cover to cover : Evaluating and reviewing children’s books (Rev. ed.). New York: Collins.

School Library Journal Guidelines and Application for Reviewers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/about-us/guidelines-and-application-for-reviewers/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s