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Frida, St Helen and St Katharine

A Skinful of Shadows

I enjoyed 'A Skinful of Shadows' because I thought that the main character, Makepeace, was written so that you could clearly see her characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. She really develops as a character as her mind expands its knowledge, and what I enjoyed most was that the the author leaves the reader's knowledge limited to what Makepeace discovers. This means that at some points you find out 'facts' that Makepeace thinks are true and the reader has no choice but to believe her thoughts. This led me to find out some information which I later discovered not to be true.
I thought that the characters such as the 'ghost of Morgan' were very interesting because she chooses to go against her family and help Makepeace on a number of occasions, once she has learned to trust Makepeace. She does not have a very important role, but without her help Makepeace would have been at a loss as to what to do.
I thought that the plot was good because it was very complex and made you think. It was never obvious what was going to happen and a number of subtle twists and small finds gradually lead Makepeace to find the knowledge that she wanted and achieve her goal. However, at some points I thought the plot started to wander off and became harder to follow, so it would have been easier for the author to be in control if the plot had been a little less complex in some parts.
The author's way of starting the book with Makepeace knowing nothing of Grazehayes caused the reader also to know nothing. This meant that when she goes to live there the reader is suspicious because of that fact that at the start of the book Makepeace's mother never talks about it until one day she accidentally says the word 'Grazehayes' and Makepeace is curious. When she finds out that she has a family connection with it, she wants to know more. Her mother refuses to give her any more information and so the reader is left curious and wanting to find out more because of the questions these facts create. This makes the reader want to read on and find out more about Grazehayes.
Makepeace was a character who from the first was obviously quite unusual and stood out from the other children in her small town. She was not seen as brave or clever, but as the book went on she started to become less afraid and more bold. Her friendship with James, her step-brother, gave her the courage to show her true personality instead of trying to blend in. I thought that 'bear' helped Makepeace as its loyalty, occasional rage and strength gave Makepeace the courage not to worry about the consequences but keep going and not give up as there was always bear on her side.
The author created the mood of Makepeace's company by the tone of what they said. I thought this made the book more interesting because of the range of words and different lengths of sentences. At the start of the book, when Makepeace's mother is introduced, it is obvious that she is determined and does not expect Makepeace to answer back or question her decisions. When Makepeace talks to her, her answers are mostly short and final. This gives the impression that she expects to be listened to and obeyed. However, most of the descriptive sentences are longer and more complex with more detail. This gives the reader information.
In conclusion, I thought this book was really good. It was creative, clever with its plot, had really good characterisation and made the reader want to read on. However, I thought it needed more joy in it, as it seemed as if Makepeace was always in bad and horrible places and as soon as she managed to overcome the challenges there was always another challenge ahead, so at times her adventurous plans seemed quite hopeless. Consequently, I would rate this book 7/10.

Posted on: 29th April 2019 at 08:51 am

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