Tag Archives: Daniel José Older

Book Review: Shadowshaper Legacy (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 3) by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper Legacy (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 3)   

Author: Daniel José Older

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

American release date: January 7, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA Contemporary Fantasy/432 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Sierra, the new Lucera, and Shadowhouse have destroyed the Sorrows and the House of Light, to form the House of Shadow and Light. Next on the agenda is to take care of the rising house, Bloodhaüs, which bears more than a striking resemblance to a neo-Nazi organization.  Both sides agree to a parley, but surely she didn’t expect the skinheads to keep their word? Maybe, just maybe, Sierra can salvage something positive from this meeting. Like a spy who can infiltrate the House of Iron?

Life is difficult with so many people Sierra loves incarcerated for things they shouldn’t be there for, including her brother Juan, her friend Izzy, and her new love interest, Anthony, aka the artist formerly known as Pulpo. Good thing she has so many loyal friends and family members to support her, including her father Dominic, although he really doesn’t know what is going on but he stands behind her and does not get in the way, despite his son being in jail. Even so, Sierra feels compelled to not include them in all of her thoughts and plans, which could end up being a major mistake on her part. It’s not a lack of trust as much as an unnecessary need to keep people safe who she should really be relying on more, since no man is an island, and neither is she.

Sierra also has a secret she hasn’t shared before. Namely, she’s keeping the last remaining Sorrow hostage up in her late Grandpa Lazaro’s old room. Whoa, will that cause problems when the others find out? Especially her mother Maria? From Sierra’s viewpoint, she is solving two problems with one stone, so to speak.

Juan and Anthony know they’re safe behind bars because of the protection afforded them by the House of Iron. But their unexpected release raises the concern of how far that safety lasts once they step outside the prison walls. New houses are beginning to emerge. Friend or foe? Hard to tell, even when a new guy named Mort helps put an end to a common enemy. How far can they trust Mort, if at all? Worst than that, it appears as though Anthony has gone over to the House of Iron. How can that be? How will Sierra survive such a betrayal?  When their spy Dake emerges as the leader of a brand new house and demands Sierra turn over the Deck to him, she has to weigh her options – give him the deck and its power or risk the lives of the loved ones of the people of her house. Not an easy decision to make, but so much hinges on what she chooses to do.

Wow, wow, just wow, wow, wow. Such a great story, so much going on. Impossible to describe, you just gotta read it for yourself. Sierra is growing and evolving as the leader of her house, but sometimes even she isn’t sure she likes the changes that are happening to her, and longs for the way things were. But she is strong, and she can survive anything. One of the things that is different in this volume from the other two is the multiple viewpoints. Previously, the story was told strictly from Sierra’s POV, but this one has multiple narrators. That was a little offputting at first, but I could see why this had to be, since Sierra can’t be everywhere, and important information comes from other sources. But I quickly got used to that and came to appreciate it, seeing that it gave these other characters room for greater depth and development. Loved Neville and Nydia, and now Juan and Bennie. So cute! I confess that I never did warm up to Sierra’s mother, even though her actions semi-atoned for what she did previously. But that was too little too late in my opinion, though others may feel entirely differently.

This is such a creative, imaginative tale with a lot of heart and soul. The world development is outrageously good, and so is the character development. By the end of the series, you feel as though these are people you really could know… friends, neighbors, family. There is a lot of drama here too, and sometimes I wasn’t certain which way a particular situation might go, and I found myself turning the pages rapidly to find out what would happen. This is a great story for teens and adults alike. I highly recommend it. I’m hoping there will be more stories in this universe. There is certainly room for them.

Book Review: Shadowhouse Fall (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 2) by Daniel José Older

Shadowhouse Fall (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 2)     

Author: Daniel José Older

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

American release date: September 12, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA Contemporary Fantasy/368 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

A lot is going on in Sierra Santiago’s life. After learning she was a shadowshaper, and so is Robbie, a guy she likes but never really talked to, Sierra discovers the existence of the Deck of Worlds and then is made the new Lucera by her dead grandmother. A whole lot to absorb! Sierra has initiated some of her friends and family as shadowshapers as well, and now she needs to find out what’s going on with this deck, and who does she need to fight to keep it from falling into the wrong hands? Sometimes it’s impossible to tell who can be trusted.

A girl named Mina shows up unexpectedly and tries to give Sierra a card – the Hound of Light, but Sierra wants nothing to do with it. Does the card represent someone to be feared? Where is this person? Could it be Mina herself? And why is Robbie so often as not MIA? What’s going on with him, and what about their feelings for one another? Were those real or were those just shadows too?  When she learns Tee has accepted a different card from Mina, Sierra suddenly feels that maybe she should retrieve the first one before it’s too late.

Sierra finds that the Deck of Worlds is being brought into play, and that houses are forming which could be dangerous to her Shadowhouse. Maybe even more dangerous than the Sorrows.  She ends up with the deck and different cards begin to connect to various people in her life, including her mother! Who saw that coming?

Sierra finds herself growing closer to one of her brother Juan’s bandmates, Pulpo, except now she thinks of him as Anthony, and she is definitely attracted to him. Things are so complicated without adding that to the mix. And what about Robbie? She has no idea. But things are escalating, and the police are a large part of what’s going on, and Sierra fears for the lives of everyone she loves. If she’s gonna be the Lucera, she might just have to kick some butt and take numbers…

There is a lot going on in this second book, no lie. Forces are coming into play that threaten Sierra and her family and friends. How can she stop this? Can she stop this? There are so many dilemmas Sierra is facing, not least of which is not being able to tell Bennie she’s seen his dead brother. I love the part about her uncle Neville and Nydia – so cute! And I am thrilled that Izzy can shape with her words. I have no idea what will happen in the triangle of Sierra, Robbie, and Anthony. I don’t think anything is settled yet, far from it.

Parts of this book will make you laugh, parts will make you cry, and others will make you gnash your teeth in rage, while others are pure page turners as you rush to find out what is going on. A splendid second volume for the series and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Book Review: Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1) by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper (The Shadowshaper Cypher, Book 1)       

Author: Daniel José Older

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

American release date: June 30, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA Contemporary Fantasy/239 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Sierra Santiago is a mural artist. She, along with other artists, work on murals at the Junklot, owned by Manny the Domino King. Her own mural, which is going to be awesome, lies on the side of an old brick building which already contains other murals. One day Sierra notices something odd. The murals seem to be fading, but not with time or weather. And one of the figures seems to be crying. How is that even possible?

Things start to get stranger when Sierra’s stroke-ridden abuelo, Lazaro, apologizes to her and warns her of shadowshapers. What does that even mean? He tells her to contact Robbie, a boy at her school she doesn’t really know but wishes she did. And then at the first party of the summer, a corpse walks in… and life for Sierra will never be the same.

Sierra and her friends, as well as Robbie, and Sierra’s family, including her rock star brother Juan, have been plunged into a world they never imagined existed. But they better figure it out quickly, because something wicked is definitely coming their way.

This is my first time reading this author, but it certainly won’t be the last, even after I finish this series. He has a very smooth, easy-to-read style that draws you in even as he develops intriguing and interesting character. He has created a new world with new entities in the form of the shadowshapers. Sierra is a great heroine, and Robbie her match. I like the way he creates whole characters, neither wholly good or wholly bad, but some of each. Nobody is one way or the other, and even characters you dislike may have redeeming qualities.

I’m greatly looking forward to the next book and highly recommend it!