Although she’s been a name within the young adult horror/fantasy scene for a while now, Frances Hardinge was recently projected into the mainstream public gaze when her novel The Lie Tree won the 2016 Costa Book of the Year Prize. After such a bar was set with her last novel, Hardinge’s fans waited with bated breath for her newest, A Skinful of Shadows. Luckily it is an intricate and masterfully told coming-of-age tale, full of intrigue and more than a little creepy, which lives up to expectations. Plus, it was nominated for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award 2017. Take that, Costa.
A Skinful of Shadows is a dark fantasy novel, set during the English Civil War. We meet our protagonist, Makepeace, as a young girl who lives in the attic of her Puritan uncle’s house, along with her mother. She is haunted by very realistic dreams of ghosts and other terrifying things, and to help her deal with her strange affliction, her mother often forces her to stay in a church overnight to deal with the demons in her head.