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Tabitha, St Helen and St Katharine

A Skinful of Shadows

A Skinful of Shadows is set during the English Civil War. The main character, named Makepeace, lives in Poplar, with her mother, although in her aunt and uncle’s house. As she grows up, her mother tries to teach her to never go to her father’s family, and how to defend herself against spirits, for she is a Fellmotte, and can be inhabited by ghosts. But when her mother is killed, she is sent to live with her father’s family, who she has been brought up to fear.
The plot was well constructed, and the author seemed in control of the plot. The events that took place in the book were believable within the limits set by the topic of the book. I found it very interesting how Makepeace found herself in the company of both Parliamentarians and Royalists, and experienced their different points of view and perspectives. As the reader, I was annoyed that I never got to find out Makepeace’s real name.
The characters in A Skinful of Shadows were all very different in their backgrounds and opinions. I found myself despising Makepeace’s mother at the beginning of the book, because of the way she treated Makepeace, but admiring her at the end due to her past escape from the Fellmottes and her fierce protection of Makepeace. This was the reason behind her actions. The feeling of betrayal was very strong, as the characters who betray Makepeace are close, and she trusts them. I liked how some characters unwillingly close to Makepeace warmed to her throughout the course of the book.
The style suited both the theme and subject of the book, as the eerie scenes were truly unsettling. For much of the book, Makepeace has no living company to talk to, and so there is lots of narrative. However, she has spirits in her head to hold conversations with, and so overall, there is an equal balance of dialogue and narrative. There is not much humour, but the few scenes where there is, it is well constructed and funny. There are many long, descriptive sentences, but not so many that it drags.
I enjoyed this more and more as it went on, as it was very dark at the beginning, but became less so throughout the course of it. There were many stages where there was a sense of betrayal and loneliness. When I was reading it, I felt as though I could not tell where it would end, and when it did, I still wanted to find out more about how the character’s lives turned out. Overall, I would rate this book nine out of ten, even though it is not the usual type of book I would read, due to how haunting it was.

Posted on: 23rd April 2019 at 09:52 am

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