Study Guide

Sadima Killip in Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic

By Kathleen Duey

Sadima Killip

For Real Farm Girl

How would you like waking up at dawn every day to cook, clean, and take care of the various animals? Sadima doesn't seem to mind it one bit.

When she tracks down Franklin in Limòri and he suggests that Somiss might let her stay if she takes on the household duties, Sadima doesn't bat an eyelash: "Cooking and cleaning were as familiar as old friends. And staying out of Somiss's way would be just like staying out of her father's way" (19.33). If the price of admission is being a domestic goddess, Sadima's got that covered thanks to her upbringing.

Better yet, her farm background has made Sadima tough. When Somiss practically forces her and Franklin on a hunger strike, Sadima only smiles and says: "Farmers' children learn to live on snow and turnips in the winter." (29.2) Forget about fad diets—people who want to lose weight should clearly try living in peasant agrarian societies. We don't hear a lot about Sadima's physical appearance (other than her having noticeable red hair, 5.2), but we imagine that she's pretty slender and muscular from all those years of hard work and semi-starvation.

Then again, living on a farm hasn't really prepared her for city life. Even visiting the small town of Ferne is an ordeal: "It was always hard at first—all the smells, all the scraps of thoughts and feelings from the animals, all the voices and colors and noises" (9.30). That sure sounds like a lot to take in, right? Right.

Her background also makes Sadima a little on the naïve side. When she's discussing cheese-making with Rinka, for instance, Sadima suggests adding herbs to the cheese. She's astounded to hear that it's illegal to bring herbs into the city unless you're a member of the royal family. Her reaction:

Sadima was amazed. In Ferne people grew their own herbs, or picked them wild. She was very glad she had brought her own. She would have a hard time cooking without them. (31.8)

We're with Sadima here: being so self-sufficient seems like a plus overall. It helps establish her place in Somiss and Franklin's household, and it means that she's always willing to seek out her own solutions to things.

Animal Lover

If Sadima were alive in our world, she'd be a total flower child. She loves nature and animals, and we bet she'd look cute in a tie-dyed shirt. She also likes to paint, mostly things from nature like trees and wildflowers.

When she's still living with her dad and Micah, she goes for runs at night just to be out in nature. For example:

On this full-moon night, to celebrate her tenth birthday, she slipped outside and ran, silent, happy, across the yard and down the path that led to River Road. (7.3)

While enjoying the cool night air, she meets a wolf cub and plays with it until its mom comes back to the den. This not only gives us a cute mental image, but also tells us how good Sadima is with animals, since the wolves (which normally don't spend much time around people) think she's a-okay.

Sharing the feelings of animals isn't always fun, though, and when Sadima and Micah witness an unruly horse being whipped, Sadima shares its fear. She whispers to Micah: "Make them stop… Make them stop hitting him" (9.48), and they end up buying the horse in order to ease his pain.

Sadima's a perfect candidate to become an animal rights activist. Upon meeting Franklin, she realizes that his goal of resurrecting magic to help people could also apply to animals: "If people understood animals' hearts… they would be kinder" (11.57), she notes.

One of the nice things about being close to animals is that they understand her—while people totally don't. When Sadima tried to tell her father and her brother about her abilities, they accuse her of lying. All she really wants is to be accepted and understood, which is a big part of why she goes to Limòri to find Franklin: "If she could just be near him, if she could talk about her whole self, her real thoughts, instead of pretending to be like everyone else, she would be happy" (19.8). She just wants to be able to be herself around someone, to be believed and accepted.

Maybe Sadima's a prime candidate for a cat lady, assuming she makes it to old age in the first place. Animals just seem to accept her, while people have trouble understanding her. Go figure.

Sympathetic Is Her Middle Name

Sadima's ability to feel the minds of animals is part of what makes her a big softie, but she also cares about and sympathizes with people. This includes people that she doesn't know or doesn't like; for instance, after Somiss chases the young boy out of their place, Sadima sees the blood spattered around their home and she cleans it up, "Her eyes stinging with tears" (41.4). And as much as Somiss makes her uneasy, she doesn't like to see him starving himself.

She feels bad for the street orphans, too, like this one in particular:

Now that she had a few coins in her dress pockets, she had not been able to ignore all the children's pleas. And this one had caught at her heart. He had a cheerful demeanor, and a terrible scar. Someone had tried to cut his throat, the knife sliding up behind one ear as he fought for his life. (39.1)

She finds a way to slip the boy some money in such a way that the bigger kids won't notice and beat him up for it. That's nice of her, eh?

In fact, Sadima has such a big heart that certain cruel acts simply don't make sense to her. When Franklin reveals that his parents had sold him to Somiss's family, she blurts out, "They sold you?" (43.16). She can hardly process that this kind of thing happens, thinking to herself, "What kind of parents sold their children?" (43.19)—which is a pretty legit question if you ask us.

Sadima's feelings for Franklin are especially strong. She feels like they understand one another and belong together. She begins to sing the long-life song over his bed while he's asleep each night (43.63), and she shares the chores with him—from copying manuscripts to cooking—in order to give him a break. She worries about his future, too:

He would leave with her. He had to. If he didn't, Somiss would kill him one day, with overwork or his fists or with fasting. (53.8)

In the end, Sadima's feelings for Franklin and her sympathy for the beggar boys that Somiss has locked up, keep her around the city. She knows it's a bad situation—because hello, Somiss is kind of wicked—but she just can't bring herself to ditch Franklin. It's a classic should-I-stay-or-should-I-go situation, with no easy solution. Guess we'll just have to pick up the next book in the trilogy to see what Sadima decides.