Skin Hunger

Holly Black urged me to read Kathleen Duey‘s Skin Hunger, the first volume of the Resurrection of Magic trilogy, saying that it was the best fantasy she’d read in years. Her blurb for it—“beautifully written, harsh and unforgettable”—is right on the money. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it over a week ago (and I’ve read several books since then).

Skin Hunger alternates between two stories and the connections between the two do not become clear until more than three quarters of the way through the book1. When they do it’s so terrifying that you start to hope that what you think is going on isn’t.

This book is about class, politics, and power. It’s also the story of a poor country girl and a rich spoiled city boy who are not destined for each other. In fact, they never meet in the book. If I’m right about what’s going on then they are unlikely to meet in books two or three.

Skin Hunger is also about evil and about love but not in a hooey way. (No uni***ns or lollipops anywhere in view.) At times it reminded me of Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy and also of some of Knut Hamsun’s writing. It’s bleak and disturbing yet somehow hopeful.

The wizard school is as unlike Hogwarts as anything I can imagine. Put it this way (spoiler coming): if you get stuff wrong you die. Magic in this world is villanous fakery or dangerous corruption. Just how I like it. The choices those with magic make are much more complicated than a simple go insane or die young.

Go read this book!

A warning: Skin Hunger is the first volume of a trilogy and it doesn’t stand alone. The book ties up nothing and has no resolution. But it was so unbelievably good I didn’t care. I just want the rest of the trilogy NOW.

  1. At least to me they didn’t, but I can be really thick. []


  1. hwalk on #

    sounds great. i love when people give such glowing reviews.

  2. Eugene on #

    I was hoping there would be more resolution at the end of book one, but I do want to read the next volume immediately, so it did something right! I also found myself more engaged by the creepy wizard school side of things, until I began to understand the connection to the other half of the book more. It did remind me of Earthsea a bit, now that I think about it. Oddly enough, Holly is the reason I picked this one up too, since she was raving about it at Readercon. 🙂

  3. Faith on #

    I’ll definitely be adding this to my “to-be-read” list. Thanks!

  4. hillary! on #

    I was at a bookstore today, I was all excited because I was thinking of buying Skin Hunger, because I too had heard about it through Holly Black, but guess what? THEY DID NOT HAVE IT! nor did they have ANY of Justine’s. NOT A SINGLE ONE! I was a very angry person, then I saw that they had certain vampire book that I really wanted since it was the third, but…it was almost 20 dollars! Plus Girl at Sea looked funner and I knew it wouldn’t leave me hanging, beacause MJ would NEVER do that! I will not mention the bookstore because I’m still too angry. But I still want to read Skin Hunger. Oh, neither did they have Tyrell.

  5. jessiegirl on #

    I’m sold. as soon as i get more book money it’s at the top of my list.

  6. Danica on #

    I must read this book!

    Can you believe I never used to enjoy fantasy (not including Harry Potter)? What a fool I was.

    PS: I really enjoyed your last post, Justine.

  7. Maggie on #

    I’m sold just on the title alone! 🙂

  8. Justine on #

    This is the part where I get anxious. I really hope you all like it as much as I did. I’ve now spoken to two people who aren’t Holly who also loved it . . . but if you don’t it’s not my fault!

    Danica: The “Does She have to be Black” one? Thanks! The discussion in the comments is fab.

  9. cassie on #

    Reading it now at Holly’s house. I met Kathleen at BEA and she seemed absolulely so nice. I wouldn’t have guessed her book would be so brutal. It is definitely the anti-Potter.

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