Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher Series #1)

Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher Series #1)

by Daniel José Older


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The joyful, bold New York Times bestseller. Look for the sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, out 9/12!

"Magnificent." —Holly Black, New York Times Book Review

"A must." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Exceptional." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging with her friends. But then a corpse crashes their first party. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing non-stop. And when the murals in her neighborhood start to weep tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one. Now Sierra must unravel her family's past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780545591614
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 06/30/2015
Series: Shadowshaper Cypher Series , #1
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 643,504
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Daniel José Older has always loved monsters, whether historical, prehistorical, or imaginary. His debut series for young adults, the Shadowshaper Cypher, has earned starred reviews, the International Latino Book Award, and New York Times Notable Book and NPR Best Books of the Year picks, among other accolades. He has worked as a bike messenger, a waiter, a teacher, and was a New York City paramedic for ten years. Daniel splits his time between Brooklyn and New Orleans.

Read an Excerpt

From Shadowshaper:

"It's salsa!" Sierra laughed, her feet stepping naturally in time with Robbie's.
"Not exactly, but close enough."
The music swirled around them, moved with them, for them. Sierra saw little old couples tear it up, putting some of the awkward younger folks to shame. Two eight- or nine-year-olds spun happily past. The song surged as the crowd swelled, or was it the other way around? Sierra couldn't tell anymore. Didn't even care.
Something in a far corner caught Sierra's eye and she swung Robbie around to get a better look. The vast murals churned and swayed in time with the music. The elegant soldier leapt from his peak into the sky and found himself a pretty angel to swing with. The classy fellow and his death bride spun wild circles from one wall to the next. The pretty black mermaids formed a dancing ring around one of the dragons, who appeared to be showing off a sultry two-step. Sierra closed her eyes and let the other dancers, the swirling paintings, the whole spinning city around her fade into a colorful blur.

Customer Reviews

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Shadowshaper 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting, with well-developed lore and awesome characters of color!
KDReads More than 1 year ago
Exciting YA Urban Fantasy with a unique magic system intricately tied to Sierra's cultural background. A bit of a slow and confusing start, but well paced afterwards and original. The climax was set up to be fantastic, but let me down in execution. However, the characters's voices stood out. Excellent read for urban fantasy fans who want to step away from fairies, vampires, werewolves, or mermaids. The corpses are a bit like zombies, but they have a twist to make them feel fresh.
18876111 More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book, especially the characters. I also loved that family and friendships were more prominent and both were very important. Shadowshaper is rich with culture, and I really enjoyed reading about one that I'm not too familiar with but definitely, want to learn more. The main character Sierra is one amazing heroine, not only learning things about herself but learning more things about her family uncovering secrets along the way. I can't wait to read more from this magical series!
Morgan_S_M More than 1 year ago
Imaginative and original, with an entertaining, diverse cast of characters. I loved the idea of shadowshapers and I liked how authentic the story felt culturally. But it also felt rushed, a little confusing, and had a weak villain. Still, worth a read if you enjoy urban fantasy!
BlowPop More than 1 year ago
This was my first book I read from this author. Like I've read the stuff he's put up on his Wattpad account and follow his Twitter account and read the stuff he puts up on his website as well. So I knew going into this that I already liked his style of writing and I like his voice (both his speaking voice and his writing voice) as well as the things he says. Knowing all that going in, holy crap! I was still blown away by this book. Once I started this, I did NOT want to stop reading it. And *HATED* having to put it down to do anything. I read it in once sitting essentially. With interruptions of having to deal with life things (unfortunately food is needed to survive so shopping was necessary). But like initially, the cover was what drew me in. It's colourful. It's GORGEOUS. It's unapologetic. It not only fits the general theme of the book's main character Sierra (especially her unapologetically being authentically herself which I *LOVED*) and the book itself but it sets the entire mood and theme of the book and helps you to really get into the book IMO. The cover photo was done by Michael Frost and the cover art and design was Christopher Stengel and they deserve so much appreciation and love for what they've helped to create for this book. Truly. Nydia was one of my favourite characters and I want her to get her own library so badly in this series at some point. I loved Tee and Izzy as well. But I adored Nydia and Sierra the most. I also loved that there was no heroine hijacking in this book (where MC girl meets boy and suddenly the story is ALL about their love story and him instead of where it originally was going because that seriously irks me in books and is a huge thing in YA that happens). Sierra's portrayal and her friendships felt real and authentic to me. Like they were people who I could run into were I to go out with the intention to meet people. I loved that her friends supported her but they weren't guilted in the "if you don't support everything I do then we're not friends" way that some novels do. And that the ones who felt they couldn't support this part by doing what everyone else was doing weren't guilted into doing the thing. Yes some tried and it was stated that the characters felt bad that this person couldn't be there for them to do this but they more or less understood and weren't going to try and make them. Acknowledging the hurt and accepting it was an important thing to show since a lot of media especially geared at teens and female teens in particular like to focus on ignoring the fact that things like that can and will hurt and that it's ok to tell a friend that you love and support them but can't physically be there supporting them for this. We need more healthy depictions of friendships like that. The acknowledgement of attraction to Robbie but not wanting to be too involved in him was also great. As was the discussion Sierra and Robbie had regarding his tattoos and his not fully knowing his heritage/ancestry. One of my favourite quotes in the book comes from Sierra looking at herself in the mirror and giving herself her own pep talk. "Today she looked menacingly into the mirror and said: “I’m Sierra María Santiago. I am what I am. Enough.” She sighed. These days were spooky enough without her talking to herself. “More than enough.” The last line especially. She is definitely more than enough. Everyone is. And I think that's a quote that will resonate with people, especially teens. At least I hope it
RBlodgett More than 1 year ago
Great start to an Urban Fantasy YA series. Wonderfully fleshed out cast of characters, with plenty of room to grow. Easily could picture this story on the screen (big or small). That would be something I'd like to see. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very exciting read! I really hope there will be a sequel!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Sierra Santiago's plans for the summer are quickly derailed when old-timers from around the neighborhood start to disappear. As soon as a strange zombie guy shows up at the first party of the summer, Sierra knows something is up even if her mother and grandfather refuse to admit that anything is remotely wrong. When one graffiti mural starts crying and others begin to fade, it's clear that something sinister is at play. Everyone in the neighborhood agrees it's vitally important for Sierra to finish the mural she started, but no one will say why. It's only when she starts hanging out with Robbie that she learns about Shadowshapers and their ability to connect to magic through art. They used to be very powerful. But that was before the Shadowshapers had a falling out years ago. And before they started dying. With only scant clues, limited experience with her newly-discovered Shadowshaping powers, and not nearly enough time, Sierra and her friends will have to think fast to save their neighborhood--and maybe the world--in Shadowshaper (2015) by Daniel José Older. Shadowshaper is Older's first novel written for the YA market and a standalone. Older uses concrete details and real locations to bring Sierra's Brooklyn to life in Shadowshaper. The story effortlessly evokes New York wandering and handles issues surrounding gentrification and the changing landscape of the city extremely well. Sierra's voice, and those of her friends, are authentically teen which only adds to the ambiance of this novel. Additionally, a diverse cast including Sierra's friends, neighborhood regulars, and Sierra's family create a great story in a sub-genre that is often frustratingly (not to mention unrealistically) white. While Shadowshaper excels with characters and setting, it unfortunately falls flat as a fantasy. The mythology surrounding Shadowshaping is slight at best with rules and mechanics that are poorly explained when they are explained at all. There is a lot of potential here that might have been better served with a longer novel or even a sequel. Breakneck action and numerous chase sequences also diminish the story and leave little room for characterization. While Sierra is very well-realized her friends often come across as stock characters with limited personality or purpose within the narrative. While it is incredibly empowering to have a book where the only white person is the villain, it was disappointing to see that villain become little quite one-dimensional by the end of the novel. Shadowshaper is a fast read. Unfortunately, many parts of the novel feel rushed. The hardcover has some obvious continuity errors with blocking (characters standing on one page and then standing again three pages later without ever having sat down for instance) and many opportunities to complicate the narrative and characters are ignored. Shadowshaper is a great choice for readers looking for authentic characters and a fun read. Recommended as an introduction to urban fantasy for readers willing to suspend their disbelief with only limited justification. Ideal for reluctant readers and anyone who likes the novels fast-paced and full of action. Possible Pairings: Tithe by Holly Black, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine, Radiant Days by Elizabeth Hand, The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, The Replacement by Brenna Yo
Booktrovert More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Shadowshaper. It's much different from what I usually read as I am a big spec fic/dystopia fan. This is more urban fantasy with magical realism. I picked this up first on recommendation from Book Riot but also participating in this year's A More Diverse Universe. #Diversiverse rules are simply to read a book by a person of color any time from Oct 4th - 17th. That's it. Shadowshaper is a look into the world of Sierra Santiago, a Puerto Rican girl living in Brooklyn. She's an amazing artist who has been given the gift of Shadowshaping, that is bringing works of art to life through a connection with the spirit world. As she learns about what it means to be a Shadowshaper; she makes the connection that a group of Shadowshapers who hung out with her abuelo, before his stroke, are dying off one by one. Sierra teams up with her friends, including a potential romantic interest in fellow artist Robbie, to figure out what is happening and how she can put an end to it before they come for her. This is a great book dealing with so many issues; racism, sexism, cultural appropriation, etc all while we see Sierra come of age with her new found abilities