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A Skinful of Shadows


This is what people have been saying about A Skinful of Shadows:

The Guardian

"The pull of the story is towards subversion, and Makepeace ends by reappropriating her inherited gifts, and using them not to provide a vessel for antiquated mores, but to succour the weak and the dispossessed. This is a wonderful, resonant narrative whose subtlety and insight will challenge, entertain and enchant." ~ Philip Womack, read more

The Observer (Children's Book of the Week)

"Spiky and curious, resourceful and brave, Makepeace is a typically unique Hardinge heroine who finds strength in the very things that make her different. She may only be 12 years old when the novel begins but, as with The Lie Tree, this won’t stop adult readers from finding much to savour in the rich, sophisticated prose that bristles with menace and the unexpected." ~ Fiona Noble, read more

The Daily Mail

"Having won the Costa Book Of The Year Award for The Lie Tree, there is much anticipation for Hardinge’s latest offering: a supernatural mystery set during the English Civil War. Her hypnotic prose and resourceful heroine will appeal to young adults and adult readers alike." ~ Sarah Oliver, read more
Also one of The Daily Mail's best children's books of 2017

The Book Smugglers

"If there is one thing that connects all of the author’s works is this: the principled, strong-willed, dynamic and fierce heroines she creates. Makepeace might not know whose side should be victor in this war, but she never wavers from righting wrongs and she will fight tooth and … claws to save the life of her brother and the lives of those she thinks deserve a second chance." ~ Ana Grilo, read more

Kirkus Review (starred review, listed in Best Teen Books of 2017)

"Deliberate, impeccable, and extraordinary." ~ read more

School Library Journal (starred review)

"The rich language, distinct and eerie world-building, and truly evil villains make this a layered, thought-provoking tale about power, friendship, survival, and love. Makepeace is caught between identities, religions, and loyalties. As she slips from one misadventure to another, meeting intriguing figures along the way, her fierceness and sheer will keep her alive and true to herself and those she protects. Hardinge continues to create multifaceted characters, well-researched historical settings, and laugh-out-loud dialogue that will enrapture strong readers of fantasy and complex historical fiction." ~ Shelley M Diaz, read more

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Hardinge, whose The Lie Tree was the 2015 Costa Book of the Year, crafts a delicious combination of historical adventure, coming-of-age tale, and supernatural intrigue, set amid power struggles that reshaped 17th-century England." ~ read more

Booklist (starred review)

"Hardinge’s writing is stunning, and readers will be taken hostage by its intensity, fascinating developments, and the fierce, compassionate girl leading the charge." ~ Julia Smith, read more

The Horn Book (starred review)

"The visceral immediacy of Hardinge’s prose (at times almost painful in its plethora of sensory details and its bleakness) can sometimes be unsettling, but the prose itself is always original and invigorating." ~ Martha V. Parravano, read more


"Award-winning Frances Hardinge’s latest novel bubbles over with brilliant ideas in a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure encompassing families, a very special kind of haunting, spying and the English Civil War." ~ Julia Eccleshare, read more

The Bookbag

"Cracking good stories full of likeable but eccentric characters and memorably bizarre situations aren't enough for this gifted author, however. Her use of language is striking: colourful, poetic, unconventional and flamboyant by turns, it makes you want to rattle through the story once to find out what happens, then go back immediately and read it slowly in order to savour the delicious phrasing. London is described as a smoky mass of menace and promise, whispers lick at your ears, and water gives a sabre-flash of reflected moonlight. Phrases to repeat and ponder." ~ read more

Sci-Fi Bulletin

"Makepeace’s journey involves her with some of the key figures in the Civil War, but much of the time is spent among the ordinary people whose lives are turned upside down. Hardinge makes them all – the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate – credible, and we never forget that they operate with a very different belief system to ours, even if human nature doesn’t alter over the years." ~ Paul Simpson, read more


"It's rare to find a book that delights without reservation. Reading A Skinful of Shadows is like studying a Vermeer painting, wherein a young woman with an enigmatic expression gazes defiantly at her audience. In its pages, we meet a prickly, stalwart girl who wants so badly to do right by those around her and who is constantly dismissed and underestimated — to the peril of those who do the underestimating." ~ Caitlyn Paxson, read more

Books for Keeps

"Frances Hardinge is a true original. Her wildly unpredictable imagination ensures that any literary journey in her company is certain to be full of surprises. This current novel may well be her best. Britain during the Civil War makes for a dramatic enough setting in itself. But add to that an ancient family whose ghosts systematically occupy the bodies of each succeeding generation and the stage is set for something totally weird but also, because of the author’s skill and commitment, generally convincing at the same time." ~ Nicholas Tucker, read more

The Skiffy and Fanty Show

"A Skinful of Shadows is a heart-warming allegory for growing up and finding your true nature and a tale of family and of control, as well as a skillfully told fantasy tale that’s perfect to read while wrapped up in a blanket sipping a mug of cocoa. A great book for teens and adults alike and one that should be making its way onto Christmas lists ASAP." ~ Penny Reeve, read more