Skulk – Rosie Best
When Meg witnesses the dying moments of a shapeshifting fox and is given a beautiful and powerful stone, her life changes forever. She is plunged into the dark world of the Skulk, a group of shapeshifting foxes.
As she learns about the other groups of shapeshifters that lurk around London – the Rabble, the Horde, the Cluster and the Conspiracy – she becomes aware of a deadly threat against all the shapeshifters. They must put aside all their enmity and hostility and fight together to defeat it.
As far as I know, I haven’t read many novels that focus on shape shifting. I have heard of the cliché’s, sure, but I hadn’t actually read many. I knew when I started reading Skulk that it was about shape shifters, but not your usual kind. That’s what initially attracted me in this book. It sounded original, something different than the usual wolf shape shifter or whatever has been used a million times before. The book didn’t disappoint, it was different, imaginative, fun to read and had a strong protagonist. Want a refreshing YA novel? Than you should try this one!
I think you may have noticed from my tone in the first paragraph that I really, really liked ‘Skulk’. That’s why I breezed through it in just two days, which is fast for me. The concept isn’t new, but Rosie Best did one hell of a job making it into something unique. The shape shifters in this story are foxes, spiders, rats, ravens and butterflies (yes, butterflies!). There’s also this fascinating background story about how these different ‘clans’ came to be. It was really interesting to follow the change in the relationships between the different shape shifter clans, the author did a wonderful job describing the rivalry between some of them and the blossoming friendship between others.
The protagonist, Meg, isn’t your typical girl. The thing about most YA novel is that they tend to choose a protagonist, especially a girl, that thinks she isn’t anything special, that thinks she isn’t beautiful but turns out to be just that. Meg is a girl you could bump into in the street and not take a second look at. She’s not super thin, she’s rich, but has horrible parents and she doesn’t really fit in to the whole glamour style. She likes to make graffiti art and spends her days on a website about graffiti, admiring other peoples work and posting some of hers. As I mentioned before, her parents are atrocious, her mother thinks she should lose a couple of pounds and doesn’t shy away from the most horrible methods to accomplish that. Her father is a quiet man that doesn’t really care much about his daughter. All in all, Meg has had a less than favorable childhood. But she handles that so well. She’s such a strong character. Even through all her struggles throughout the story she stays this strong, down to earth girl. Her emotions are real and relatable. She really comes to life through Rosie Best’s words. Meg is one of the best protagonists I’ve read about in a while.
The secondary characters were diverse and interesting to read about. I was glad Meg found a deeper connection with some of them, because, again, it felt so realistic and true to life when the author described it. It wasn’t forced or weird. I could pick out the people she would click with and when that click actually happened it felt right. Best also put some interesting twists in there. Not all of the shape shifters are agile, young people with a gift. She has created a diverse set of characters to populate her shape shifter clans, which gave the story another level of authenticity.
Another thing I really liked about this book was the gore. I know that sounds a bit freaky, but the author didn’t shy away from some blood. There were some pretty horrible scenes in the book and they were always described with the right amount of horror and blood. Enough to make you cringe, but not too much to make you want to put the book aside. This, in a YA book, takes some guts. I’ve rarely encountered it before in YA. I applaud it!
‘Skulk’ is a beautifully written, unique and imaginative YA book that grabbed my attention from the first page. I really enjoyed it and will certainly be reading the rest of Rosie Best’s work. ‘Skulk’ is different, balsy and full of great characters. If you’re looking for a good book about shape shifters, and not your usual cliché business, than you should pick up this one, you won’t be disappointed!