A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Rating: 4/5 stars

A Skinful of ShadowsBlurb:

When a creature dies, its spirit can go looking for somewhere to hide.

Some people have space inside them, perfect for hiding.

Makepeace, a courageous girl with a mysterious past, defends herself nightly from the ghosts which try to possess her. Then a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard for a moment.

And now there’s a ghost inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, but it may be her only defence in a time of dark suspicion and fear. As the English Civil War erupts, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.

Review:

‘She felt the queasy tickle of their nearness, like spider-feet against her mind.’

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, mostly due to the beautiful writing style, but partly because I love ghost stories. This ghost story felt fresh and original with the family history and Makepeace’s possession by Bear. I loved the relationship between Makepeace and Bear and how they had a lot in common despite being different species; both being lost and used by the people around them. Makepeace herself was a likeable character, strong and resilient. However, I think my favourite character was Mother, her cold-heartedness and the mystery surrounding Makepeace’s beginnings make her interesting. The opening conversation between the two is striking;

‘Conversations became riddles with traps in them, and your answers had consequences.’

It is quite a long book but this gives us plenty of time to get to know the characters. Although, I did feel like more time could have been spent getting to know James, as Makepeace’s motivation is to save him but their relationship seemed to be lacking something and I wasn’t rooting for him the way I perhaps should have been.

The story is told against the backdrop of a civil war which Makepeace finds herself involved in but doesn’t really care about it, she cares about the safety of all ordinary people, but it does serve to move the plot forward and gives us some great action.

I would give the story 3 stars but the beautiful prose bumps it up to 4.

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