Saturday, October 5, 2013
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Format Read: ARC from publisher in exchange for honest review (thank you!)
Keywords: shapeshifting, magic, graffiti
Summary: When Meg witnesses the dying moments of a shapeshifting fox and is given a beautiful and powerful stone, her life changes forever. She is plunged into the dark world of the Skulk, a group of shapeshifting foxes. As she learns about the other groups of shapeshifters that lurk around London — the Rabble, the Horde, the Cluster, and the Conspiracy — she becomes aware of a deadly threat against all the shapeshifters. They must put aside all their enmity and hostility and fight together to defeat it.
Smaller publishing houses make me nervous. Honestly, they do. Quite often, I get books from them that just aren't up to the same level as other things I read.
Strange Chemistry is different. This is the third book I've reviewed from them, and they are consistently putting out high quality books that wow me at every turn. They're the young adult (sci fi and fantasy focusing) imprint of Angry Robot, and I'm just so impressed!
Skulk started off intriguing with the main character (commenting about how her mother thinks she's too heavy at about a size 14, which I thought was GREAT! There aren't too many of these in young adult books recently) sneaking out to tag some stuff around the streets of London. Where she happens upon a dying man who gives her a weird stone, and she gets home and accidentally realizes she can shapeshift into a fox — whoops!
The cast of characters was superb — in addition to Meg we have a young pre-teen girl dealing with homelessness, a jewel thief, and a few other great people that help Meg out in learning about the shift. I also loved all the tiny details that were implanted sporadically throughout the book and would crop up again at a later date. They were wonderful and extremely surprising.
Best amazed me with her attention to detail in general explaining how the shift worked and what the shifters did with that power. Nothing left me questioning how anything worked (like when they shift, they lose their clothes, but instead of them just magically having clothing in some stories and movies, she actually has characters think about that and keep hiding places all over the city where they store extra cover-ups).
It was also full of action and surprising villains showing up all over the place. As soon as I thought they were safe for a few pages, something would turn around and change all that. It was also REALLY dark when it came to offing people. As in, not your normal crazy killing stuff. Super magic weird crazy killing. So be warned. It was awesome.
Read When: You need a high-paced, action-filled story with a little magic, a little rebellion, and a little romance.