Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic
Imagine Harry Potter crossed with The Hunger Games. You've got a school for magic… but only one student will make it out alive. You've got magic lessons… coupled with starvation and sleep deprivation. You've got people who can understand the thoughts of animals… and sadists who torture children.
Sounds like fun, eh?
Skin Hunger, the first book in Kathleen Duey's A Resurrection of Magic trilogy, was a National Book Award finalist, and by golly we can see why. The novel is dark and compelling, raising difficult ethical questions while also reeling us in because we care about the characters… or the ones who aren't child-torturing sadists, anyway.
Duey has written over eighty books for young reader and young adult audiences, so we're thinking she's gotten the hang of telling stories that appeal to kids, teens, and adults. Skin Hunger may be darker than her usual middle-school fare, but let's face it—not all stories get to be happy-go-lucky.
But just because it's dark doesn't mean this book isn't completely fascinating. After all—it tells not one, but two stories, both of which brim with magic. And though we're betting you live in a magic-less world just like we do, this means we have two protagonists to guide us through the magical, and often terrifying, world of this book. In other words, it's virtually impossible not to feel intense curiosity and compassion as you read.
Plus there's a bit of a mystery hanging out at the heart of this book. And while we end with nearly as many questions as we start with, this just means we're eager to dig into the second book in this trilogy. Because while we're not sure if we spent more time feeling curious or horrified while reading this book, whatever the ratio, this one's a page-turner for sure.
Why Should I Care?
What if you could end war, poverty, and violence?
Just imagine: a world where people can understand each other's thoughts, and feel each other's pain. In a world like that, how could anyone raise a hand to hurt another person, or sit back and watch while they starved?
Some of the characters in Skin Hunger want to create a world like that, where suffering will be eliminated… but it comes with a price. How much would you suffer in order to birth a new world full of peace and understanding? Would you, like Sadima, stay through emotional blackmail? Would you give away years of your life to make it happen? Would you endure pain or hunger? Would you, like Hahp, do magic to feed yourself even if you knew others around you were starving? Would you hurt a handful of people if it would benefit hundreds or thousands?
If you've ever had an idea to make the world a better place, or even just improve something in your local community, you should ask yourself what price you're prepared to pay. Because there's always a price, and nothing in life is free. As we see in Skin Hunger, even good intentions can have horrifying consequences.
Consider yourself warned.