Older, Daniel José. Shadowhouse Fall. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017. 358p. ISBN 9780545952828. $18.99 MS, HS, OT, ****
Shadowshaper ended with Sierra’s acquisition of a new, poorly understood power. Shadowhouse Fall opens a year later when Sierra has a growing awareness of what is possible. She has amassed power by initiating friends and family and this has upset the balance of power in the spirit world, something Sierra will soon learn. Light battles shadow as control is sought over a mysterious deck of worlds. The mythology grows more complex as more houses are revealed and the roles within them must be learned and leveraged. Add in a family death, a love triangle for the main protagonist, and questioning of who one can really trust and you have the makings for a great urban fantasy drama. This is the second in Older’s Shadowshaper Cypher series and it has all the same great things as the first book: diverse characters with clear ties to their heritage and richly explored culture including music, food, myth and language. Readers will love to see how personality impacts power as each character finds that their tech, lyrical and artistic skills are brought to full force. Social justice comes front and center in this title with police corruption and violence at the core of the plot. With all that said, this is not a perfect books and there is some weak plotting as happens sometimes with middle books in trilogies. But there is enough complexity and interest to bring readers through to reading the third book. For readers who want to jump in at this title, the plot is distinct enough for this to operate as a stand-alone. But readers will certainly benefit from the world building and character development of reading book 1. And there is plenty left to do in book 3. Fantasy violence, tame romance, topical social justice issues, relatively mild cursing makes this a strong continuation of what I anticipate will become one of the new classic series for high school (and some middle school) readers.
Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library