Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers of Skin Hunger, the first book in this series. If you have not read Skin Hunger, dash off to your local library as fast as you can and read it! Then you may read this review, and subsequently Sacred Scars, at your leisure.

When we left Sadima at the end of Skin Hunger, she, Franklin, and Somiss were in a cave with several orphan boys, kidnapped from Limori. Sadima is miserable living in the cave. She feels the fear and loneliness of the trapped boys, whom Somiss forces to learn how to copy the Gypsy symbols. Somiss is even more reclusive- and yet somehow even more frightening- than before. Worst of all, Franklin is gone all night, stealing food, and asleep all day, so Sadima has almost no time with him. As more and more time passes, she realizes that maybe he doesn’t even love her anymore. And slowly, she realizes something she knew all along. She cannot stay in this cave. She must escape.

Hahp, at the end of Skin Hunger, had made a pact with his roommate Gerrard to destroy the academy at all costs. They both realized the danger of their agreement, and as their fragile almost-friendship teeters on the verge of breaking, it seems to Hahp that Gerrard isn’t keeping his end of the deal. But that is far from being the boys’ only problem. As their lessons become more and more difficult, life becomes more painful. The wizards are acting even more strangely. Hahp’s sleep is haunted by dreams that blur the lines between fantasy and reality. Worst of all, the safety of all the boys is threatened by the violent, unpredictable, and dying Luke. As the pact between Gerrard and Hahp expands to include the rest of the boys, they are forced to make the most difficult choices of their lives. And as the connection between the story’s two plots becomes more apparent, the eternal question still nags at the reader: where is Sadima?

This book most definitely lived up to the precedent set for it by Skin Hunger. Although Sadima’s story lagged somewhat in the beginning of the book and at certain points throughout, most of that plotline, and all of Hahp’s, moved at a fairly brisk pace. There were numerous plot twists and unexpected events sprinkled throughout to keep the story moving.

Hahp’s story was definitely the more engaging of the two plots. There was so much story material there, weaving a rich, detailed plot, and as always, Hahp is a realistic and dynamic character. But this should not be taken to mean that Sadima’s story was not also compelling; on the contrary, since the action progressed somewhat more slowly for most of the book, it provided a nice complement to the tension of Hahp’s story, building up to the dramatic climax and cliffhanger ending in both cases.

Overall, Sacred Scars is a fabulous second installment in the Resurrection of Magic trilogy; I’m anxious for the conclusion. Four and a half magical daggers.

Yours in suspense,


Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

It is the peak of immigration in New York City, at the dawn of the twentieth century. Shouts in dozens of languages whoop through the air and smells from every dish imaginable waft through the streets of the Lower East Side. Tenements, rickety but home, climb the sky, fire escapes snaking down. The streets are crowded with pushcarts and calls. Thus is the setting for The Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Bella is a young immigrant girl, fresh from Italy and weighted with the daunting task of providing for her family overseas. She is lucky to find a job, though the hours spent hunched over a sewing machine in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory are not quite what she expected.

Yetta has worked at Triangle for months. She lives with her equally rebellious elder sister, and, like Bella, sends most of her earnings home to her family in Russia. She is lively with life and pulsing with her want to change the world, to mean something, to matter. She wants women’s rights and safer conditions at work, shorter hours and higher wages. She is determined and fiery, willing to stand for months in the blistering heat and shivering cold, holding a picket sign and striking for union recognition in factories. Yetta is spirited and intense, gladly giving every bit of herself to her cause.

Jane, lastly, is a society girl with an intellectual spark. She is curious and compassionate, spending time with strikers and at rallies for no gain of her own, and finds herself swept up into this passionate world of striking and working and wanting and hoping. There is more to feel, she finds, outside of her ignorant, sheltered life. And these ardent factory girls so desperate for their cause accept her and love her—she finds a place with them that she cannot find at home.

Uprising is the story of these three girls. It is inspiring and adrenalizing (if that was not previously a word, I now deem it one), making me want to jump up and devote myself to a cause with all of my everything. On the other hand, the book does such a good job of enticing the readers into the world it creates, that it runs the risk of romanticizing poverty to some extent.

However, all in all, I love the way the book was crafted. The fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory looms ahead for the entire novel. Right from the first chapter, we learn that two of the three best friends will die in the fire, though we do not know which ones they will be. This sets up an interesting dynamic--as I would read and get to know each character better, I would start to root for her to survive, before realizing, dismayed, that the other two would have to perish. It gave the book momentum and a reason for me to keep reading at the few moments the plot lagged.

Furthermore, the author was very skilled at weaving fiction and fact together, creating a story that haunts and perplexes, makes you think about the world and what you can do to change it, but also makes you care deeply for the three main characters. She succeeded in bringing life to a tragedy that occurred almost a hundred years ago. In making us care not only for the girls who died, but for the factory owners and the workers who survived as well. In painting a horrifying picture of flame and sky and the impossible choice—to jump or to burn? In making readers understand that if we want change to we have to fight for it, as the shirtwaist girls did in their months-long strike. The author wrote the story to make us understand what it was like to be a factory girl in 1911, with holes in her boots and tears in her dress and the incredible desire to change the world. The author wrote the story to give insight into life a century ago, to teach us to fight and question, and to warn us of the modern-day tragedies, today’s equivalents of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, that are waiting to happen unless we decide to fight for change.

Four and a half evil daggers.

Fervently yours,


Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

On her way home from school, Sophie Amundsen finds two notes in her mailbox. On each note is written a simple, yet infinitely profound question. "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" These questions are the humble beginnings of Sophie's very own basic course in Philosophy being taught by a mysterious nameless philosopher. As Sophie progresses through the History of Western Philosophy, strange things begin to happen. Sophie gets letters intended for Hilde, a girl with the same birthday as Sophie. To unravel the mystery behind the letters, and the other strange events which occur, Sophie must use philosophy. However, the inevitable truth is unfathomable until it is finally revealed.

Sophie's World is a thrill ride. There is no other way to fully describe Sophie's World in such simple terms. Right from the beginning, the reader begins to ask themselves the same questions being faced by Sophie. Who are you? and Where does the world come from? are just the beginning. Sophie's anonymous teacher takes her from the Pre-Socratic natural philosophers, through the famous Greek trio of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, up to Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Hegel, Kant, Marx, even Darwin and Freud. These are just to name a few. The wealth of knowledge in this book makes Bill Gates look poor.

The most remarkable thing about this book? It pulls you in. It fascinates you. It makes you hunger and thirst for more. You cannot put it down. Ever heard of food for thought? Well this is a feast, only not just a feast. It induces a kind of intellectual high too. It's like flying. The mind is opened up to such a multitude of things. You're left feeling weightless, capable of anything. You feel all this, right from the beginning. Right from chapter one until you close the book, the intensity rises, the fascination grows. About two-thirds into the book, the most dramatic twist I have ever seen in any piece of literature occurs. From then until the end, the puzzle pieces begin to fit together into a big picture. It is impossible to summarize the twist, or its effect on the already mounting tension. Simply put, it is mind-blowing, earth-shattering, and totally wicked!

I give Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder 5 out of 5 daggers.

It is quite possibly the best book I've ever read.

Yours in wonder and awe,
Gabriel Gethin

P.S. I apologize in advance for sounding like a screaming schoolgirl in the front row of a Jonas Brothers concert for the majority of my review. The fact of the matter is, this book is just fantastic. I loved it. Therefore, it is impossible to separate emotion from my own personal reading experience.