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