Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book 1



Dark but engrossing story of wizard education.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Children are slowly and miserably starved to death if they can't master a magic spell. An act of arson, references to beatings and killings, child abuse, a boy wishes to kill his cruel father.


A kiss, a reference to masturbation, mention of a penis, a girl wishes to make love.


Frequent use of "s--t," occasional "f--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, unusually for a fantasy, there is a fair amount of swearing, mostly unnecessary, and some mild sexual references. Also, the mistreatment of the boys in training to be wizards is disturbing.

What's the story?

In the first of two parallel stories, Sadima survives a traumatic birth that kills her mother, and is caused in part by a phony magician who robs them. Growing up with her older brother and their taciturn, angry father, she discovers that she can communicate with animals, a fact that she dare not reveal to her magician-hating father. When he dies, she heads to the city, where two men are trying to resurrect the secrets of magic that have been lost.

In the second story, many years later, Hahp is enrolled, against his will, in an Academy for Wizards where the penalty for failing to learn is death, and few survive. Though unwilling, Hahp has a talent for magic, a talent he hopes one day to use to destroy the school, and his father.

Is it any good?


This is not your typical fantasy -- in fact, it may be unlike anything you have ever read. It's a very dark vision of a world where magic is just beginning to be resurrected after being suppressed and nearly lost for many years. The author eschews nearly all the usual trappings of the genre. There are no battles of good against evil -- actually, there's precious little of either commodity to be found, and no battles at all. In fact, there's very little action of any kind -- just grinding cruelty and joyless acquisition of knowledge and skills. Even the use of magic is minimal. Yet the book is utterly engrossing.

The resurrection process is not fun for anyone. In the Sadima story, it involves living in secret and enduring poverty, fear, and Somiss' borderline insanity to find clues hidden in old nonsense songs. In Hahp's story, it's literally do or die -- figure out the magic yourself, or die trying. No cute Potions lessons with grumpy teachers, just raw survival. The ending is less a cliffhanger than just a stop in the middle of the story. By that time, most readers will be so involved that they will be clamoring for the next installment in this grimly cerebral, National Book Award-nominated new series.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the bizarre and cruel way of teaching magic depicted here. Are there any advantages to the way Somiss teaches magic, or is it just satisfying his cruelty? Why does Franklin stay with him, and why doesn't he stop the cruelty?

Book details

Author:Kathleen Duey
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:July 1, 2007
Number of pages:357
Publisher's recommended age(s):12
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byskyrebel April 21, 2011

Let Us See The Dark Side Of You Magic.

The book is extraordinarily good, as it shows people the side of magic people don't usually want to see. Sadima and Hahp are very good characters, and as I get to read more of the series, I am sure that you see how both their lives are linked.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byChristopher K August 8, 2009

The Darker Side of Magic

This novel explored the darker side of magic which couldn't even be found in masterpieces like Harry Potter. I enjoyed it very much and suggest it for any fantasy-lover.
Parent of a 11, 15, and 18 year old Written byJulieKryger1970 January 5, 2009


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