Review: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Title: A Skinful of Shadows
Author: Frances Hardinge
Pages: 416
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Source: Free ARC from Amulet Books

Rating: 3 stars

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Amulet Books via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Review: Last year, I read (and very much enjoyed) The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, so when I found out she had another book coming out, I was in! Alas, though it was strange and magical (in that it contained a supernatural bent), it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

The concept is fascinating: a young girl discovers she can sense spirits, which is terrifying in and of itself. However, it turns out she can also house those spirits within herself, and the spirits know it. Desperate to “relocate” and hang onto human life a little longer, they pester her and torment her, forcing her to learn how to fend them off. In fact, her mother forces her into a graveyard regularly to practice, despite how much she hates doing so, and though she resents her mother for putting her through this, it eventually makes her strong enough to fend for herself against much older and stronger specters, the likes of which she never imagined.

So much prospect in this story, but ultimately it fell a bit flat for me. Makepeace is an interesting character, and I admire her moxie. She is served up a rather difficult existence from the get, but she never gives into despair, always strategizing for the long-term goal. However, the other characters were rather despicable, even those who we are to believe are redeemed. I suspect that I was supposed to come back around and forgive a certain character (trying to avoid spoilers here), but the truth is, I never liked him to begin with, and the close relationship Makepeace was supposed to share with him was never fleshed out enough to feel like anything.

It was weird, and I generally like weird. But I think I expected spooky or creepy, and it certainly wasn’t that. Since The Lie Tree was slow to boil, I anticipated the same with this book, but at some point, I started to wonder if the burner was even on. It just never got beyond lukewarm for me.

In a word: meh.

6 Replies to “Review: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge”

    • Thanks! Yup. Just because it wasn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean others won’t love it. In fact, I think on Goodreads it has over a 4* average, so…different strokes for different folks.

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