Shadowshaper, Ghost Girl in the Corner, Dead Light March, and Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older
Editor’s Note: This review covers the entire series to include an ARC review of Shadowhouse Fall. We picked up a copy at BookCon this year, and we would like to thank DJ Older and Arthur A. Levine Books for the opportunity to review. This book comes out on September 12, 2017 and you can get it here!
The hours I spent with these two novels and two novellas were surprising. I read a lot of fantasy and magic. I read a lot of ya. I should have known what this story was going to be. Expected to know what was up. However, comma, I was stomped tf out by Sierra and the squad. I was surprised to hear my childhood friends’ voices so clearly. I was surprised to feel my pulse quicken by some adolescents goin all Haley Joel Osment and seeing dead people ALL THE TIME. Daniel Jose older wrote the shit out of each of these characters and individual stories, and the arc in total is unprecedented in my experience as a reader. I’m related to every character in this universe. They have the same hair, walked through the same metal detectors at school y lloremos sobre nuestra vida in America today , nahmean? Would that I were as cool at 17, though, sheesh.
A note, and subsequently, spoilers:
We live in a very inmoortant moment in (post)modernity. Our calls to arms, at large , are typically rhetorical, yet we exist in -and I read in -an exhausting and vital moment, and the shadowhouse’s navigation of it buoyed me when I needed it. These black and brown girls and boys were their entire scared confused magical bilingual selves so entirely that I became more magical by reading. Let this chorus move you too.
*********************Ok but forreal, spoilers:***********************
In my old age, and as I gobble more series at at a time, I have a hard time writing about spoilers. In this case I’ll say the following:
- DJ older is a master of plot. I lived on. the edge of my metro/ workdesk/ metaphorical seat trough most of these stories.
- The characters (and I’m annoyed now, because I’m not this good at anything) are each incredibly themselves. The way iz learns to to shape by spittin/ and tee is smitten, and Robbie’s utterly terrifying, I-swear-this-clown-is treacherous-faceass, lowkey considerate and mature love for Sierra?! I want the humans in my real life to have this many layers, goddam!
- Sam always worries that I write essays and his time I’m gonna do it on purpose. (Heretofore I’ve been concise if you’re unclear.) I went to uva, in #Charlottesville and I read the finale of this (quintology?) series in the aftermath of my favorite town’s implosion. It comes obviously during 45’s obliteration of what meager legacy this country has left. As a result, A number of moments in shadowhouse fall, the final novel in the series brought me to tears. Tee getting illegally pummeled by he fucking school police and maced (still shadow-warrioring out and tossing their asses across the hall) while the student body aggregated and screamed and filmed while the trying to help face ass teacher “I didn’t think”-ed fucked me UP the next Tuesday morning on the metro. I was snotty, DJ. I was so scared man. Second, when Sierra gets out of jail to clulera and izzy rocking a whole park full of student protesters ?? That whole chapter was an ecstatic moment. From the surprise of freedom, though Sierra’s dad’s tears (fuggin SNIFFLE) to Sierra’s on stage oblivious- so-hard-in-like chat with pulpo, thru the jakes’ inevitable beatdown of the legally congregated peoples of nueva york, I was moved to tears. Even now, writing this, reflecting,one trundles down my fat ass cheek. Whatever. the shit was exquisitely wrought and is ripe for this moment. Black Girls need to read this. All Boys need to read this. Potter heads need to read this. Watch these kids over come and grow into their destinies and never once sacrifice who they are in so doing.
I rate it a 6/5 shots of goddam rays of life-force. It’s a unit of measurement now, because Lucera says so and because I need an entire separate post to discuss the way Older made these girls all my sisters. They talked to and like me. I knew and believed their slang and banter; I spoke and speak it with the women in my life.
Pairing: a Cuba libre. Because free all my niggas, fuck your statues, fuck the police and don’t eem trust the lawyers. The whole system is a a shit show and if you refuse to acknowledge it, you’re in our way and I’ll ‘shape some wild shit that’ll fuck your whole world up. Seeing as I don’t know magic, Might just be a right hook. Stay woke.