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Editor reviews

"Hardinge is an unusual talent who deserves to be read by children and adults alike." ( Guardian)

Summary

Frances Hardinge weaves another darkly extraordinary tale in A Skinful of Shadows, her follow-up to the Costa Award-winning The Lie Tree.

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl....

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.

Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there's a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession - or death.

©2017 Frances Hardinge (P)2017 Macmillan Digital Audio

What listeners say about A Skinful of Shadows

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Imaginative and dark

Thoroughly enjoyed this step back in time with a fantastical twist of darkness. Wonderfully narrated too and had to keep listening into the wee hours.

8 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

So well written and a cracking adventure and story line. Characters in the book to love and fear. If like me you enjoyed Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, you will probably enjoy this book too as it shares common ground. Narrator is fantastic too

5 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

Really enjoyed this book, so different and enchanting. Felt like I was really invested in the main character right from the start and loved the relationships she developed with the spirits and especially with bear. Would recommend this to anyone (and have been doing so!)

4 people found this helpful

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Gripping, moving, brilliant

Would you consider the audio edition of A Skinful of Shadows to be better than the print version?

I've only listened to it, not read it, but the performance is so good I think it benefits from being read aloud.

What other book might you compare A Skinful of Shadows to, and why?

Certainly to Frances Hardinge's other books, but she seems to be just getting better and better as a writer. There are similarities between her writing and that of Hilary Mantel, as well as perhaps Garth Nix's excellent Sabriel series.

Have you listened to any of Tuppence Middleton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No I haven't but will look out for her in the future.

4 people found this helpful

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Better Than 'The Lie Tree'?

Having read Hardinge's 'The Lie tree' I was happy to try another read/listen from the same author. I was very pleased and grateful that I did. The protagonist is worthy of maintaining interest throughout and the narrative is equally sustaining. The Narrator suits the novel well and her performance is flawless. Sympathy is regularly drawn and fascination, too, at what the next turn of events will come next. The book had one "Oh no, please not that" episode late-on, but was thankful for it as all it did was to increase and cement my loyalty the main character, Makepeace. This reads well as a grown-ups' novel, so do not be concerned if you see Hardinge as a young adult author. Chapters are well thought out and none are over-long, easily allowing you to 'chunk' your listening. My immediate reaction after completing the novel was, "Which next?" I decided to have gap between 'Skinful' and my next Hardinge, to allow 'Skinful' time to come back at me on reflection. I have quietly started listening to a Rose Tremain. Tempted by 'Skinful'? You will enjoy the journey.

2 people found this helpful

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My favourite ever audiobook

incredible, I'm still reeling from the brilliance of the story line to the beauty of it's delivery. I'm.off to buy the other two books on here right now. thank you Frances & Tuppence.

4 people found this helpful

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didnt quite work for me

im not sure whether it was the narrator or the story, but i found this audiobook boring. i usually like frances hardinge but this particular story fell flat for me. i feel it was contrived, and that the author sat down with the intent to prove she could give philip pullmans dark materials a run for its money, rather than tell her own story.
the main character is a teenage girl who befriends a bear, and there is even a character called coulter. i never really got her character, or that of her mother.
basically the story is a romp through a medievalist countryside with the baddies chasing the goodies. there is only one idea, a plotline of absorbing ghosts into their minds and its just too far fetched, and there are long passages of repetitive padding and dull exposition.
in fact the mothers backstory of being thrown from a rich family to rags sounds way more interesting than this story.
the bear sadly is never anything more than a lumbering angry presence operating on instinct , i feel sure if one had real access to a bear or any other animals psyche that there is just as much personality as any human.
i made it to the end just about, but was past caring and very bored from the middle to the end.
there are much better hardinges in my opinion.

1 person found this helpful

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Likeable heroine has unpredicatable adventures!

I had just listened to The Lie Tree before listening to this Frances Hardinge book, having thoroughly enjoyed The Lie Tree and, in particular, Emilia Fox's narration. I actually enjoyed the story of this one more, but the narrator had a very different style to Emilia's, which I found quite flat. I think I'm probably being unfair to Tuppence though, because I stopped noticing the difference as I got into the story, and have to say that I was enjoying her reading by the end...

A very imaginative story with a likeable heroine that kept me engaged and entertained. As with The Lie Tree, I think this book would appeal to young readers as much as adults.

2 people found this helpful

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Great read. Wonderful Production

Really enjoyed this book and the narrator did a great job. Have now moved on to Frances's newest publication.

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Very good

I really enjoyed this book and the narration was very good.
It kept me interested throughout.