Parents' Guide to

Shadowshaper: The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Art-filled urban fantasy has outstanding Afro-Latina hero.

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Readers will flock to this book for the outstanding Afro-Latina lead character and stay for the art-infused fantasy storytelling. If you stripped away the shadowshaper spirit part, the story would still fascinate. We follow Sierra to her home, where she faces prejudices from her own family -- sexism from her grandfather and racism from her aunt -- and out with her friends, navigating their gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. A scene at a brand-new hipster coffee shop is both full of humor and astute social commentary.

And then there's this whole spirit world accessed through deep cultural connection and art. Sierra slowly discovers her gifts as this world begins to fade. Yet there's more about the immigrant experience to ponder as the body count in Shadowshaper rises and the mystery builds. Sometimes the action falls a bit short of exciting -- you're sure Sierra will jump at the chance to use her cool new powers, and she doesn't think of it until after you're yelling at her through the book, stupidly hoping she'll hear you -- but the heroism wins out in the end. Overall a great start to a unique fantasy series.

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