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Author: Rosie Best
Year Published: 2013
Synopsis: To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.
While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn't long before Meg realizes that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.
Review: This book surprised me so much and exceeded all of my expectations! Seriously, it was so good. Dark, gritty, suspenseful, and full of gorgeous imagery and world building. I've read quite a few books about shapeshifters, but this one is probably the best one I've read.
Rosie's world building and her incorporation of the shapeshifters into modern day London is rich, imaginative, and completely believable. After reading this book, I feel like I would question all of the foxes, crows, spiders, rats, and butterflies that I saw in London - are these animals just animals, or are they really humans in disguise? Especially since, in the world of Skulk, there are only six of each shapeshifter at any given time. I also really loved that the groups of shapeshifters were known by the names that groups of the animals they shift into are actually called. Super neat!
I think my favorite part of Best's London was all of the graffiti featured throughout the story. I felt like I could see the vivid colors of E3's art and the harsher lines of Meg's. And I could even feel the emotion behind the artwork whenever Meg explains her reasons or what things represent.Especially the one about her mother.
Meg's family life is kind of terrible (her mother is a tyrant who only cares about her public image and her father barely speaks to her), so it's not really a surprise that she does some of the things she does. She isn't perfect, and I think that it's because of her flaws that I really liked her so much. I also really liked that she's very real - she has real emotions and real problems even though her family is very wealthy, and she's also not stick-thin and gorgeous like a lot of heroines nowadays are. It's very refreshing. I think she's one of my favorite female characters that I've read about in a long time.
All of the supporting characters are also very well developed, and I felt like I knew them just as well as Meg did. I feel the loss of her friends just as if they had been my own, and I loved meeting new people that were part of one of the shapeshifting groups. They're all so interesting and so diverse, and I thought it was really interesting that there was no real rhyme or reason to who gets the chance to shift; you only have to be the closest person when one of them dies. I think that's so cool.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a great urban fantasy. Or for anyone looking for a new take on shapeshifters with excellent world building, character development, and gorgeous art. This book was so good! A 5/5!! I can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens next!
Oh, and don't miss Rosie on the blog tomorrow! Paul and I are interviewing her as part of the Skulk blog tour! :)