Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.


Favourite Exerpts:

Page 36

“If you don’t make a move soon,” Rutilio said, “I will make sure that that’s what they write on your gravestone.”

“It’s not even my turn, coño, it’s Lenel’s.”

“Here lies Manuelito,” Mr. Jean-Louise said. “The blankness of void vacant estupid.” He shrugged. “He was somewhat liked.” He and Rutilio crossed themselves. Manny grumbled and shuffled his pieces.

Page 79

He looked at her like she made sense, like they shared some secret language that no one else knew, and that they spoke it even when they weren’t speaking at all.


My Review:

I read this one for Diversely Booked Book Club’s May Edition but haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. I think Katie and I have both had off months because I don’t believe we’ve had the Twitter chat for it either BUT I did finally read the book so I figured I would attempt to get the review out of the way. I didn’t write down any trigger/content warnings for it and it’s been a few weeks since I finished it so I don’t remember if there are any. If you want to let me know in the comments any that you noticed or would want added, I’ll update the post to include them.

The characters in this novel were amazingly developed and I felt like each of them were real people. I especially loved the development that went into Sierra and her family because they felt so very real. I look for this in ownvoices novels specifically because the culture is something that the author has experienced and does experience in their every day life. I adore how this translates into the absolutely stunning level of character development I saw in Shadowshaper.

The story is set in a real world location that I have not personally been to. The world building was exquisite and I was able to easily put myself into the environments that Sierra finds herself in. It was very immersive and I’m super excited about that. I love to travel and I’m not always able to, so when a novel is set in a real world location and is as well built up as it was in Shadowshaper, I tend to be really happy with it.

The story itself in this one OH MY GOSH y’all… I remember putting reading this off and putting it off and putting it off until finally I made myself sit down and start it. Unfortunately for me, I started it in the afternoon and did not sleep much at all that night. In addition to the world being immersive and the characters being believable, the story itself is beautifully told. The pacing of it flows naturally throughout the story.

I really loved all of this story, aside from the romance which at times felt a little forced. Again, the fact that this is an ownvoices novel shines so brightly throughout Shadowshaper. Daniel José Older has given us a stunning work of fiction and I can not wait for the upcoming sequel!

Overall, I rate Shadowshaper 4 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of Shadowshaper and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Daniel José Older and his work, visit his website.


2 thoughts on “Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

  1. I liked it, too, especially the world he built, which was a fabulous change from vampires and wands and Anglo-based magic.

    I didn’t like it as much as his adult Fantasy, though. Older’s short stories and his HALF RESURRECTION BLUES are much more nuanced, with deeper, more bittersweet characters. Also, the magical rules in SHADOWSHAPER seem a little convenient and flexible, as does the romance. But his dialogue is, as always, fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

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