Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

Skin Hunger, the first book in the Resurrection of Magic trilogy, tells two stories, centuries apart but mysteriously linked. The first is the tale of a rural teenager named Sadima, who lives in a world where magic exists but true magic is forbidden. At the time of Sadima’s birth, a “magician” assisting with the birth stole her family’s valuables and left her mother to die. As Sadima grows, she discovers a talent for speaking to animals, but conceals it for fear of arousing her father’s bitterness towards magicians. One day, an enigmatic visitor to Sadima’s family’s farm, introducing himself as Franklin, recognizes Sadima’s ability and offers to take her away to the city, but Sadima, frightened, declines. Secretly, though, Sadima yearns for freedom, and years later, she decides to seek Franklin out.

She locates him in the city, working as a servant to a brilliant but arrogant and ruthless young man named Somiss. As time goes on, her relationship with Franklin becomes more than just a friendship. Somiss, meanwhile, spends every day shut away in his study, working obsessively. Slowly, Sadima learns what he is trying to do: bring back magic.

The other plotline, which takes place centuries later, tells the story of Hahp, the son of a wealthy merchant. In Hahp’s world, magic has returned, but can only be used by a select few people, trained at special academies of magic. Hahp’s father sends Hahp to one such academy, where he hopes that Hahp will emerge from the school as a wizard. But Hahp soon finds that only one of the ten boys admitted to the school will graduate, and that the only requirement for graduation is survival.
At the academy of magic, under the wizards Somiss and Franklin, Hahp lives a terrible life. He and the other boys are starved, deprived of basic necessities, forced to perform meaningless tasks, and completely isolated from the outside world. As Hahp struggles to survive and learn the secrets of magic, he forms an unlikely partnership with a peasant boy named Gerrard. But they must exercise the utmost caution, for collaboration among the boys is punishable by death.

Skin Hunger is a riveting novel that tells a deliciously sinister story. Evil lurks in the shadows around every corner, innocent characters are caught up in a web of cruelty and spooky secrets. The whole tone of the book is very eerie, dark, and enigmatic, very different from that of other books I’ve read about magic. Quite refreshing to an evil cousin such as myself.

Skin Hunger’s two-story plotline is definitely unusual, but surprisingly, I didn’t think it detracted from the book at all, because both stories were so good. Reading the book, I searched for the connection between the stories of Sadima and Hahp, and did not find it; nor did I find answers to the many questions that still lingered at the end. Skin Hunger is by no means a complete story in itself. The ending is, somehow, very satisfying, yet leaves the reader hungry for more (no pun intended.) This book made me really want to read the sequel.

And of course, the greatest thing about this book was the compelling storyline. I was completely swept up in the sagas of Sadima and Hahp. I read the book in a single day because it was practically physically impossible to put down. The only thing I didn’t really like was the awkward semi-romance between Sadima and Franklin, which, although it was an interesting plot twist, I felt was rather unnecessary. Still, though, since it was a minor element, the overall book was excellent.

I award this wickedly clever book four and a half scintillating daggers.



Miss Cindy said...

sounds like a very interesting book :)

L.A.Wood said...

Dear 3 Evil Cousins, how did you pick this name for your blog title? The site is awesome in appearance, and you've obviously read lots of books.

Would you care to take a look at the synopsis of my ebook )NO reader needed, just a PC or laptop)? It's entitled, Forever Endless Night, and involves a witch and a vampire as its main characters--though ghosts, cemetaries, secret chambers, and such like find their way into the story.

Hope you like the synopsis enough to read the book. The link for it and my blog follow.




L.A. Wood
Forever Endless Night

: ) said...

i loved the book, only downside is how obvious the connection between the 2 plots are. i rekon the plot line will deteriorate though - but I'll take the chance - any info on the next book?

Charlotte said...

My only complaint with Skin Hunger is the wait for the sequel...http://kathleenduey.blogspot.com/2009/07/sacred-scars-to-be-released-august-2009.html