A Skinful of Shadows

A Skinful of Shadows - blog post image
BY Julia Thum | 0 Comment(s)

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.

Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there's a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death."

My Thoughts

If I had my way every child in the world would have the opportunity to read A Skinful of Shadows as well as Frances Hardinge’s earlier novel, The Lie Tree. I implore you to wrap up A Skinful of Shadows and pop it under the Christmas tree for anybody between the ages of about 12-16 or order it from the library as an absorbing fabulous holiday read for kids to curl up with over the winter holidays.

A Skinful of Shadows is a captivating story and Hardinge’s prose seethes with atmosphere. There isn’t a scene or a character that you can’t smell, hear and feel beneath your skin. An incredible achievement.

Twelve year old Makepeace is an exquisitely drawn heroine and the perfect protagonist for this challenging tale. She is feisty and strong in a quiet, realistic and reassuring sort of way and she carries the reader along with her and her ghosts like a whirlwind.

I’d heard the A Skinful of Shadows was a ghost story, a genre I’m not overly keen on, and only my huge enjoyment of the Lie Tree led me to take the leap of faith and buy it - I am very glad that I did. Yes, it is a ghost story of sorts but don’t let that put you off, it’s like nothing you’ve ever read before.

I listened to the audio book which was gripping and beautifully performed by Tuppence Middleton.


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Teachers - have you discovered @BookPenPals? A new initiative pairing authors & illustrators with schools to make reading recommendations via postcards. They're pretty oversubscribed, but if you're interested it might be worth getting your name on the waiting list. They have some fabulous authors on board.