Skulk (Skulk, #1)
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.

Skulk (Skulk, #1) Details

TitleSkulk (Skulk, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 19th, 2013
PublisherStrange Chemistry
ISBN-139781908844699
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Shapeshifters, Supernatural, Romance, Science Fiction, Fiction

Skulk (Skulk, #1) Review

  • Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
    January 1, 1970
    Unlike many other 2-star books I've read, there was nothing outrageously bad about this book. The characters are dull and generic; despite the fact that some characters (like Meg's parents) are pure tropes, I do not hate anyone outright. Some characters are annoying, but nobody in this book grated on my nerves so much to warrant and full-on profanity-laced rant regarding their character. Mainly because the characters and their characterization is just severely lacking, and there are so many side Unlike many other 2-star books I've read, there was nothing outrageously bad about this book. The characters are dull and generic; despite the fact that some characters (like Meg's parents) are pure tropes, I do not hate anyone outright. Some characters are annoying, but nobody in this book grated on my nerves so much to warrant and full-on profanity-laced rant regarding their character. Mainly because the characters and their characterization is just severely lacking, and there are so many side characters that I can only recall four that stands out. My use of profanity within this review will be quite limited where this book is concerned.My main complaint about this book is that it's just so insufferably boring. The characters are dull. The world-building and the mythology of the shape-shifters are so vague. The main character spends much of her days and night prowling about town on her little foxy paws investigating some mystery about some fog that goes around town tentacle-raping and killing those of her kind. That's pretty much it.This book is all action, no depth; consequently, whatever action there is turned out to have the same side effect as a spoonful of Nyquil. Thankfully, without the bitter aftertaste. The best thing about this book is the awesome fox drawing on the cover.Margaret (Meg) Banks is the daughter of a famous politician mother (a Member of Parliament) who is completely batshit crazy in private and a CEO father who is just a doormat disguised as a man (one guess what happens to them, the most dangerous profession in the world is that of a parent in YA fiction, I tell you). Meg is named for Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, but she seeks to be more like someone similar to her last name---that is, the graffiti artist, Banksy. On a secret project to spray paint her school at night, Meg runs into a dying fox, who then transforms into a man, who gives her a mysterious blue jewel and then dies, somehow or other giving her the secret power of being able to transform into a fox.Um, ok.From then on, Meg prowls around town on her little foxy paws trying to run away from a mysterious murderous fog and trying to get a bunch of human shapeshifters who act more like animals than thinking creatures to work together.The fog is some kind of a "misty tentacle monster," and it is not creepy at all. It kills people, but it mostly kills me with laughter. If you want a good book about evil foggy things, go read Stephen King's The Mist.The Mythology: Piss-poor. It's vague, doesn't make much sense, and it is completely uncompelling. It is the major failure within this book. The reader is pretty much handed the mythology within a few sentences of explanation and told: you will eat it, and you will like it, because that's all you're going to get. But the wizard wasn’t alone; he had an apprentice. And she had a change of heart. She took control of the weapon and turned it on the wizard...she tore the weapon apart. Her own power wasn’t enough to destroy it, so she hid the pieces. She set the five weards, one to guard each of the elements and keep them separate.”I’d decided not to interrupt again, but I couldn’t let this one go. “Weirds?”“We-ards, with an A – from ‘ward’. That’s us. She took five animals and borrowed their shapes, lending the weards the ability to change and blend in with both humans and animals. Huh? Ok...that might be an explanation for the shape-shifting, but it seriously does not satisfy me. Where is the intrigue. Where is the danger? Is there a compelling reason why I should care about this? This is honestly one of the worst mythology I've ever read as an excuse for shape-shifting.We have various clans of shapeshifters. The Rabble (they turn into butterflies), the Horde (rats), the Cluster(fuck) (just kidding) (they're spiders), the Conspiracy (ravens). And no worries, we get to meet every single one!!!!!!! There is no sense or reason for choosing who will be a shapeshifter. Basically, if you're in the right place at the right time when someone dies, they pass their power onto you. And it shows, because these shapeshifters are a mess. They're a bunch of animals, no pun intended. They screech, they yell, they fight, they try to kill each other. Some of them are adults, but mostly, they're adults in name only because they need to seriously grow the fuck up. Take the Skulk, the clan to which Meg belongs, for example. My amazing new world. It was a selfish thief, one young girl, and three bickering adults. The Skulk aren't the only idiots. All the clans are a bunch of bickering mess, and I was rooting for the evil wizard (yes, there is an evil wizard) and the murderous fog to kill them all.And pigeons are evil. But we all know that. Fucking flying rats. One pooped on me at lunchtime when I was in 10th grade :(The Characters: They're either 1. tropes, or 2. dull.Meg is not conventionally pretty, she is not conventionally thin (Size 16). She is a graffiti artist who strives to be the opposite of everything her mother wants her to be, and everything I want her to be, which is to say, she is completely dull, unexceptional, unremarkable in every way. Except she's a little bitch at times. But then her mother calls her a bitch, and so I feel bad for calling Meg that in my mind. But really, do you expect me to sympathize with someone who is more concerned about the fact that her graffiti got covered up in a police tent than the fact that the police tent is covering the dead body of the man who almost died in her arms the night before? I clenched my fists and tried not to swear out loud.All that effort, for nothing. Nobody – except the police – even got to see it. Screw you, Meg. Besides that, Meg is just so inoffensively boring. She has no personality. Her character doesn't develop. I cannot recall her in my mind at all. I want an ordinary girl who turns into an extraordinary character through the development of the book. Meg is just...there, eclipsed by her own dullness.Her parents are the worst of tropes. Her mother is a thin, conniving, evil witch of a woman whom Meg hates. Meg's mother is almost comically evil. She locks Meg in a closet. She forces Meg to go on diets. She slaps Meg. She calls her own daughter a "little bitch."Meg's father is a CEO, a spineless shell of a man. "He wasn’t mean. He never shouted. He was just a vague pinkish presence at the dinner table and in the hall, like a walking man-sized copy of the Financial Times."There are so many characters in the book, there are five members of every shapeshifting group, and we meet every single one of them. There are so many, and I cannot keep them straight. No more than 3 or 4 stands out in my mind. There is *takes a deep breath*: Roxie, Mo, Aaron, James, Addie, Susanne, Arthur, Marcus, Ron, Randhir, Fran, Angel, Ryan, Amanda, Chandran, Katie, Ben, Peter, Victoria, Angel. And that's not to mention the other various people in Meg's life. It's just too damn much.The Romance: Huh? It's like all of a sudden, Meg meets this boy 2/3rd of the way into the book, and then suddenly they're boyfriend and girlfriend. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? Oh, they're both graffiti artiiiiiiiiiistes. Birds of a feather and all.No pun intended, REALLY.Not recommended: there are far better books about shape shifters out there.This book was given to me as an ARC by Netgalley. All quotes are taken from an uncorrected edition which is subject to change in the final edition.
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  • Ash Wednesday
    January 1, 1970
    2 STARS Know what's worse than a story that makes no sense? A story that ALMOST makes sense. Because with the former, you could just chuck it to the dnf pile and move on, while with the latter you are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of promise, hope then disappointment that ultimately ends in someone getting pissed because she spent an entire day suffering from a migraine… without any pay-off.Legend has it that there once was a great war waged between wizards where they built tall towers t 2 STARS Know what's worse than a story that makes no sense? A story that ALMOST makes sense. Because with the former, you could just chuck it to the dnf pile and move on, while with the latter you are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of promise, hope then disappointment that ultimately ends in someone getting pissed because she spent an entire day suffering from a migraine… without any pay-off.Legend has it that there once was a great war waged between wizards where they built tall towers to amplify their powers. To put an end to all that silliness, one wizard, whom henceforth shall be called Not-Sauron, brought together the five elements of the universe and created an ultimate weapon to wipe out all the baddies (vague much?). But Not-Sauron's assistant had a change of heart and using the very weapon, killed the boss instead and sent the other wizards away (I know, it wasn't explained either). He/She tried to destroy the weapon but his/her powers only managed to split it into five, hid the pieces and set five guards (weards) with the power to shift into a specific animal to look after each piece. But who watches the watchmen? Why, the soft-hearted assistant of course (Leodweard), who can shift into any of the five animals and can see the pieces despite being hidden.This is the mythology that our heroine, Megan Banks, gets entangled with. The privileged daughter of an abusive, domineering mother and an indifferent father, Meg fashions her rebellion by being a graffiti artist at night, with the London streets the canvass of all her repressed angst. In one of her prowls, a shifter-fox dies on her arms, essentially transferring his abilities to her and leaving her with a curious piece of stone that an evil sorceress seems to be hell bent on getting.I really found the idea of having different underground groups of shape-shifters with promising names such as The Skulk, The Rabble, The Horde, The Cluster and The Conspiracy cool and with so much promise of awesome it hurts my brain to imagine the possibilities. Is it like Divergent for shifters? When it was revealed what they are (view spoiler)[foxes, butterflies, rats, spiders and ravens (hide spoiler)] I found it quite unique and was really invested on how the story will pan out because I wanted to see what kind of special powers these creatures have to be able to protect their stone pieces and battle the evil sorceress who has a carnivorous fog and killer pigeons at her beck and call.Well turns out, save for being able to talk to each other (which they use for extensive bickering), they really didn't have much difference from their non-shifter animal counterparts. Which begs the question, why Non-Sauron's assistant chose these particular creatures, at all. I mean seriously, a seven-foot black man transforms into a (view spoiler)[butterfly (hide spoiler)] to protect a magical stone against killer pigeons? How? By sending them into an asthma attack? (no, there was no indication if they were the poisonous variety, by the way).There should be a joke in there somewhere and I was so disappointed that this book failed to take advantage of the silliness of it all because it's too busy taking itself too seriously. And sadly, despite all that effort, the story still ended up this side of messy. Some plot details get introduced (i.e. each groups' unifying features/or behavior, the powers each stone pieces held, how did Meg know how to disable the fog etc.) only to be abandoned and never to be addressed again. I found the world building spotty and some of the plot devices to move the story along too elaborate for me care for, seeing as I'm having difficulty connecting with the heroine as it is.I really, REALLY wanted to like Meg. I think I got a glimpse of what she was supposed to make me feel, but you can't just leave all her character depth in being overweight, rich and abused and expect the reader to cheer for her. I found her so very underdeveloped and most of her actions illogical. She was just too accepting of all the things that are happening to her. There was no internal conflict, no doubt or sense of self-preservation… she just went ahead and lived the life of a shape-shifting fox, suddenly bossing people/foxes around. Nothing she did made sense to me and her emotions towards her parents and the other shifters just fell this side of unbelievable. I was so severely disappointed that her being a graffiti artist didn't even factor that much in the story (save for that anemic attempt at romance).The story felt like a lengthy investigation I don't even have the slightest idea why Meg was leading, that ultimately "climaxed" into a mystery that wasn't even a mystery. This certainly felt like a bottomless well of disappointment trickling to apathy with a few spikes of disgust in between (which is always better than apathy). The three people in that room had been dead in a while, and the circle of lie was in full disgusting flow: maggots had turned into flies, had fed the spiders, had laid their eggs right next to the next generation of maggots. ARC provided by Strange Chemistry thru Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Quote may not appear in final print.
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    More reviews at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.comMy thanks go to Strange Chemistry for providing me a copy of Skulk in exchange for an honest review! Every once in a while I’ll delve into the Young Adult genre for my fantasy fix, and this is one of those books that makes me really glad I do.The story opens with our protagonist and narrator Meg Banks busy sneaking out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night, carrying a backpack full of spray paint. 16-year-old student b More reviews at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.comMy thanks go to Strange Chemistry for providing me a copy of Skulk in exchange for an honest review! Every once in a while I’ll delve into the Young Adult genre for my fantasy fix, and this is one of those books that makes me really glad I do.The story opens with our protagonist and narrator Meg Banks busy sneaking out of her bedroom window in the middle of the night, carrying a backpack full of spray paint. 16-year-old student by day, graffiti artist by night, her plan is to head up to her school and adorn one of its walls with her work. That night, however, Meg is interrupted when she witnesses the final moments of a dying fox, and is shocked when the dead animal inexplicably reverts back into the shape of a man. After that, nothing is the same again. Meg suddenly learns that the ability to shapeshift has passed on to her, and she is able to change into a fox at will. In addition, a mysterious blue gemstone has come into her possession. In her investigations to find out more about it, she discovers factions of other people like her all around London -- the Rabble, the Horde, the Skulk, the Cluster and the Conspiracy – shapeshifters who all must come together to fight against an ancient threat.The first thing that hit me about Skulk is that this is not your typical paranormal shapeshifter novel. Not only is the ability to shift into a fox a pretty wild idea, but there are also characters that can change into ravens, rats and even butterflies and spiders (not to mention, thanks to Rosie Best I was also learning all sorts of obsolete collective nouns for groups of animals).But my favorite part about this book other than its unique premise was the voice of Meg. I admit, when I first learned from the opening pages that she was a rich girl who likes to do things like sneak out in the dead of night to deface her prestigious school’s property with graffiti, I thought she would be one of those annoying YA heroines with a chip on their shoulder and a spoiled attitude. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Struggling with her weight and uninterested in the same topics as her friends, in many ways Meg sees herself as an outcast. Along with the physical and emotional abuse she suffers at home from her overbearing politician mother, it wouldn't have surprised me if Meg turned out to be a melodramatic and curmudgeon-y main character. Instead, she was the opposite. I truly didn’t expect to find her so down-to-earth and just so damn real and genuine. It was easy to love her.Story-wise, I also thought Skulk was fantastic. Something interesting or life-altering seemed to be happening to Meg in every chapter. On the whole, with only the exception of a couple plot points I found confusing or forced, I found the book intensely captivating. Even the romance angle, which is an aspect I find overdone in a lot of YA novels, was very sweet and didn’t end up dominating or disrupting the overall flow of the story like a rude guest. Rosie Best found the perfect balance for this book, hitting the nail on the head for this and so much more. As such, Skulk is probably one of the best YA novels I’ve read this year.
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  • Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi/James
    January 1, 1970
    Review also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?Now I'm thinking and realizing that we don't have enough shapeshifting books out there, or it's just me not finding them. I have no idea. But when I first saw that this was a book about shapeshifting I needed to read it. Luckily I have got a chance to do so. One night after out main character Meg sneaks out to paint graffiti something unusual happens. She sees a fox, dying fox but in the next moment that fox turns into man. Even though scared she cannot but b Review also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?Now I'm thinking and realizing that we don't have enough shapeshifting books out there, or it's just me not finding them. I have no idea. But when I first saw that this was a book about shapeshifting I needed to read it. Luckily I have got a chance to do so. One night after out main character Meg sneaks out to paint graffiti something unusual happens. She sees a fox, dying fox but in the next moment that fox turns into man. Even though scared she cannot but be surprised and when she is given a beautiful stone she had no idea that power is now transferred to her. Soon enough she discovers her new power and luckily manages to meet a group of shapeshifting foxes or Skulk as they're called. But she also discovers that it's not only foxes that people shapeshift into but that they're other clans that shapeshift into other animals. Actually there is five of them and the relations between them aren't the best to say so, but after the danger is upon to all of them they must unite and fight together. Like I said the whole shapeshifting part of this story made it really different. I liked how the author created the whole idea and the way she used different animals. Some of them you might never expect to be presented. Only thing that bothered me a bit was the start. I struggled to connect with Meg at first (I was a bit turned off when I saw that she was 16) but later as the whole story developed I got meet her better and see her grow. This book was really original and nicely paced with interesting characters. Also the readers who need a bit of romance in their stories, scare not. You'll get to enjoy the glimpse of it as well. But the focus is on the idea itself.
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  • Wyatt Packard
    January 1, 1970
    Meg Banks leads a secret life outside of her controlling mother and partying friends. She lives to sneak out during the night and creates art with her trusty spray paint and the walls of public buildings. One night as she creates what she thinks is her best piece yet, she is interrupted by a dying fox. She is even more shocked when, as the animal dies, he reverts to the shape of a man. She takes the stone the man entrusts her with and runs. After that Meg's life is never the same. She discovers Meg Banks leads a secret life outside of her controlling mother and partying friends. She lives to sneak out during the night and creates art with her trusty spray paint and the walls of public buildings. One night as she creates what she thinks is her best piece yet, she is interrupted by a dying fox. She is even more shocked when, as the animal dies, he reverts to the shape of a man. She takes the stone the man entrusts her with and runs. After that Meg's life is never the same. She discovers that she can now shapeshift into a fox herself, as well as learning that the stone she has been entrusted holds a great power, and someone is out there that wants the stone for themselves. The person after Meg also want the other stones that are under the protection of the shapeshifter groups that reside around London, the Rabble, the Horde, the Cluster,the Conspiracy, and of course, the Skulk. Meg will become a part of an adventure, where she will have no choice but to do her best to save herself and the friends she makes on her journey. I really loved the originality of the shapeshifter fractions, using species that are most common in London itself. Meg was an interesting main character and I quite liked her attitude, though she is the daughter of wealthy parents, she is very down to earth and very likable.I did think the plot was a bit forced at times, and the surprise twist was predictable. I was surprised to find myself much more interested in Meg's relationship with her mother, who is a political leader and very mean and abusive. Meg dose not let her mother get her down though and manages to let much of her resentment go.Well written and original, Skulk was fast paced and entertaining. Rosie Best also taught me some fun nouns for collective animal groupings, so that's pretty cool!
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  • AH
    January 1, 1970
    Initial thoughts: About a 3 star read for me. The narrative slowed down a little for me in the middle, however I did enjoy Meg's character. She was very easy to relate to - an awkward, overweight girl who expressed herself through graffiti. Her parents were vile, especially her borderline abusive mother and her almost invisible dad. I liked the shifter lore in this book and how the shifters were organized based upon the animal they shifted into. My review:Not sure how to rate this one. It was OK Initial thoughts: About a 3 star read for me. The narrative slowed down a little for me in the middle, however I did enjoy Meg's character. She was very easy to relate to - an awkward, overweight girl who expressed herself through graffiti. Her parents were vile, especially her borderline abusive mother and her almost invisible dad. I liked the shifter lore in this book and how the shifters were organized based upon the animal they shifted into. My review:Not sure how to rate this one. It was OK, I guess, just not that memorable. It's not to say that it was bad, either. I'm on the fence about this one. In a typical young adult novel, the parents are often disengaged or absent. Meg's parents are horrid. Her father is described as "...a vague pinkish presence at the the dinner table..." The mother was a rabid control freak, counting every calorie her daughter consumed, and locking her in a cupboard when she did not behave or ate too much. I had to like Meg. I've struggled with weight issues all my life. Having someone micromanage your diet does not help. In fact, it kind of makes you want to eat all that is forbidden. Poor Meg. Having parents such as hers, how does she cope? She becomes a graffiti artist. While on one of her late night graffiti runs, she witnesses the death of a young man. Before he died, he handed her a stone. Meg then becomes a shifter.The organization of the shifter world was interesting, however, I could not figure out why they disliked each other so much. Each type of shifter had their special stone, and the villain was collecting these stones to increase her power. Skulk had an interesting premise and would be suitable for young adult readers. Thank you to Strange Chemistry for a review copy of this book.
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  • Nikki
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn't get into this one enough to enjoy it. I liked the atypical protagonist, or at least the idea of her -- I liked that she wasn't stick thin. Her mother seemed more than a bit like a cartoon villain, though, even though I know such mothers do exist in real life. It just didn't ring true, somehow.I did like the fact that all the shapeshifters are urban creatures -- no wolves or bears or wildcats in the middle of the city, here. That aspect worked well, although the reason for their existe I couldn't get into this one enough to enjoy it. I liked the atypical protagonist, or at least the idea of her -- I liked that she wasn't stick thin. Her mother seemed more than a bit like a cartoon villain, though, even though I know such mothers do exist in real life. It just didn't ring true, somehow.I did like the fact that all the shapeshifters are urban creatures -- no wolves or bears or wildcats in the middle of the city, here. That aspect worked well, although the reason for their existence didn't stand out. That's pretty much my problem with the whole thing: the book barely stands out. I've seen these protagonists before, I've seen these antagonists before. The details, like Meg's physical type and the types of shifter, seemed interesting, but I didn't find anything else below that which interested me.It's not bad, just... boring.
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  • Arra Abella
    January 1, 1970
    Strange Chemistry has been really good to me. Thank God for them. They've released some of the great YA books this year (in my opinion), including Skulk. It is one of the most interesting and engaging story I've read this year so far. Skulk is not your paranormal shapeshifting novel. The idea of using animals that are not often used for shapeshifting is refreshing. It was also impeccably written that it didn't take long to draw me in to the story. The events in the book was so vivid that again, Strange Chemistry has been really good to me. Thank God for them. They've released some of the great YA books this year (in my opinion), including Skulk. It is one of the most interesting and engaging story I've read this year so far. Skulk is not your paranormal shapeshifting novel. The idea of using animals that are not often used for shapeshifting is refreshing. It was also impeccably written that it didn't take long to draw me in to the story. The events in the book was so vivid that again, I felt like I was watching a film in my head or reliving a memory in my own pensieve. I cringed and closed the book when there was blood and violence. I was teary-eyed and sad when there was death. I blushed when something sweet occurred. The writing was so transparent and so humane. The author was not selfish to hold back some emotions or events that I was completely satisfied from start to finish. It was so raw and so intense most of the time like it was always in the climactic part that I thought it wouldn't end. With this said, I like how this book made me feel human, how I was in touch with my emotions and I thank Rosie Best for that. I can't even stop myself from telling my sister and some friends how good it was and narrated some of its most unforgettable parts to them.With the plot, Skulk discussed some socio-political issues that were undercurrent but present in the story, and basically revolve on the idea of hope and cooperation. It's not about the usual YA stories that focuses on teen angst and rebellion or even instant love (or insta-love, as they call it nowadays). I think it was inspiring because it tells the readers that we can always compromise and work together if we set aside our pride and our differences. I also like to point out the keys to achieve this, which are listening and understanding that the characters were able to realize towards the end of the story.Moving on to the characters, their description was so distinct that made them so remarkable and alive in my imagination. I also like the fact that the characters were so diverse that the author included people from all walks of life, ethnicity and religion. This made it even more relatable and realistic because we interact with various kinds of people everyday. The character development was also so evident that you can see their changes and progress. Putting the spotlight on the protagonist (which she deserves by the way), Meg is such a likeable character. She's not stubborn or impulsive as some of the other female leads in other novels. She's persistent, brave and never gives up easily no matter how tough the situation gets. She's inspiring and empowering to those who have the same familial issues. I think I never read that she whined about something throughout the book. She would just cry but after that she'll face her problems with new found courage and determination. She would take charge whenever necessary. In short, Meg's no damsel-in-distress or no show-off warrior either.Overall, Skulk is a great balance of action, scary and violent situations, unity and a hint of love. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel. This is a highly recommended young adult read with great twists, depth, and interesting world and characters that not only teens would enjoy but also adults.
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  • Naoms
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 StarsSkulk is original. I'll give it that. It has a heroine who is a slightly overweight graffiti artist from England with parents who are abusive and absent in completely different ways than the average YA. SKULK is also an utterly unique view on shape shifter. No wolves, Lions or panthers here. Nope, these shifters are foxes, crows and spiders. Yes! SPIDERS of all things. Unfortunately, this was not enough to keep me interested. After the initial novelty of it all I quickly become numb to 2.5 StarsSkulk is original. I'll give it that. It has a heroine who is a slightly overweight graffiti artist from England with parents who are abusive and absent in completely different ways than the average YA. SKULK is also an utterly unique view on shape shifter. No wolves, Lions or panthers here. Nope, these shifters are foxes, crows and spiders. Yes! SPIDERS of all things. Unfortunately, this was not enough to keep me interested. After the initial novelty of it all I quickly become numb to the style. A good chunk of this book is people finding Meg or running into her randomly and imparting vital information. There were times where someone would appear and it was just too contrived. Contrived is the word that best describes this book for me. Nothing felt organic. Things didn't seem to happen, because that is the way things should unfold in the world that the author sets up. It feels like it's happening just because. The author wants Meg to bump into a fox on her first night of transition, so she does. It doesn't matter if it seems a bit convenient or a little too lucky that he would just happen to be there.That's how this book plays out. Everyone just happens to be there. The Spider just happens to know that Meg is a member of the Skulk and so he should follow her, etc etc. No real explanations, no real attempt to have the story flow naturally.This book was not for me. I really give the author a lot of praise for giving us a truly unique look at shifters, the story in itself just doesn't work for me.
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  • Kirsty-Marie Jones
    January 1, 1970
    The night Meg snuck out of her bedroom to leave her mark behind her schools wall as graffiti artist Thatch, she gets a little more than she bargained for in the form of a dying fox...that transforms into a human right in front of her eyes and hands her a stone. On a night out with friends, on the verge of getting attacked Meg...shifts into a fox, and within doing so gets sucked into an underworld of rivalry and the power of The Skulk- the foxes, like her, and other shape shifters. The Rabble- Th The night Meg snuck out of her bedroom to leave her mark behind her schools wall as graffiti artist Thatch, she gets a little more than she bargained for in the form of a dying fox...that transforms into a human right in front of her eyes and hands her a stone. On a night out with friends, on the verge of getting attacked Meg...shifts into a fox, and within doing so gets sucked into an underworld of rivalry and the power of The Skulk- the foxes, like her, and other shape shifters. The Rabble- The Butterflies The Horde- The rats, the Cluster- The Spiders and the Conspiracy- The Ravens. Meg loves the new found freedom she has never had, and the feeling of belonging, but when a threat that attacks them all, and bodies pile up, and stones go missing, Meg's freedom has come up at a higher stake than she ever thought.Let's start by saying Skulk was a really nice surprise. I haven't read anything like t before, I've read shape shifters, mainly werewolves, which however you look at it, is or isn't. So I was pleasantly surprised with Skulk, this time since I had an advance c, I didn't look at goodreads, it's ratings or review, so I started with no expectations. It was actually refreshing, since I'm the type that only reads a book based on its ratings, and reviewers whom seem to have the same taste/thoughts on what makes a book really good. I should do it more often. I like reading books that are based in London, but if I'm honest, I really dislike the slang. Kind of grates on me after a while, and while I don't have a problem with swearing ( since, really, I swear a lot) there are certain words that I really dislike and find disgusting so that really knocked the enjoyment scale down a little for me, but hey, it was only used once. Saying that, there are a lot of issues I'm going to bring up.The first being parental abuse. Now, Skulk is anything but an abuse book, though in general it is pretty graphic in the violent parts. And there's a lot of blood and gore. The most important issue, however, is at home. It was really hollow, and low- and while I won't say who the abuse is coming from, but it was a shock to me, since it's not the usual parental abuse you usually tag with it and whom. There was no reform, no remorse or any sentimental behaviour whatsoever. It's cold. I'm also going to bring up the homophobia issue I had with this book, mainly the way it was handled, which wasn't handled at all. And whereas it didn't really make me dislike Skulk, since it was minor, it just really made me dislike a certain character. So, I have a problem with that character and not the book. Which I guess everyone dislikes characters in certain books, it's a given. Even if I want to slap that poignant little bastard...(See about the swearing?)Now the bad parts are out of the way, let's get onto the good parts, and luckily there's a lot of them!1) The blood and goreI'm pretty unaffected by blood and gore when reading.Now, watching it is a whole different thing. I'm squeamish.2)Swearing I'm always a fan of swearing in YA books, as long as they are an older YA, it just makes things more realistic. Though, it doesn't effect it either way. 3) Shifting I loved reading the description of the shifting, or should I say real shifting. Spine tingling, bones breaking and bending, shifting. You know, it's bound to hurt. Though, there's also a downside, I don't know if it's just me, but there's a few animal "fight" scenes, and sorry but a fox and a butterfly...4) The characters Well, some characters. Some I could do without.Speaking of...Meg has a distinctive voice, she's rich, has a fancy house, pretty much anyone would want, right? I thought I'd be reading from the POV of, to put it bluntly, a snobby bitch. But no, so wrong. She may have those things, but Meg's lost. She's confined, she's stuck in a box and what she eats, drinks is controlled. She's been manipulated, and she doesn't even see what's being done to her. Okay, she knows but it's like it's been so long she thinks it's normal. It's not. She has her solace though, through her appreciation of art and speaking through graffiti. Which, believe me, is fun to watch. (I was not there when somebody graffitied my high schools' art room wall. Honest.) After shifting, she also found a sense of freedom that she needed, and it kind of opened her eyes to the world.Megs parent's are...well. Let's just say I liked what happened to them. :)Addie becomes like this little sister Meg never had once she joins the Skulk. Meg worries about her and wants to look out for her because Addie's never had anyone looking out for her before. She's homeless and lives in her own den, and she prefers to live as a fox and not human, she's also this little scrappy thing. Mo is perfect for Meg, same interests, same underground activities. He was protective and supportive, which also stabilised Meg a little.Overall, I had a few problems with Skulk, but the good out ways my issues, and it's definitely interesting, and more importantly, the characters are realistic and relatable.Review originally posted on Studio Reads
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFictionDisclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I'd seen Skulk mentioned on a couple of blogs so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I couldn't resist, and kept my fingers crossed! Skulk tells the story of graffiti artist Meg, who stumbles across a fox one evening who shifts into a man before her eyes. Soon she is drawn into the hidden world of the Skulk, a group of s Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFictionDisclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I'd seen Skulk mentioned on a couple of blogs so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I couldn't resist, and kept my fingers crossed! Skulk tells the story of graffiti artist Meg, who stumbles across a fox one evening who shifts into a man before her eyes. Soon she is drawn into the hidden world of the Skulk, a group of shape-shifting foxes. I've read a lot of shape-shifting novels, usually surrounding wolves or cats, so I was intrigued to see a different take on it! This book not only deals with foxes but with rats, ravens, spiders and butterflies. What was interesting was how the book starts out as this gritty urban fantasy. It's set in London and I loved that location. It provided so much scope to explore the city and I could really get a picture in my head for the locations. Then towards the second half of the book, the book delves into a more magical side of it which sort of shifted the tone. I loved the history of the Skulk and the other groups, and how there's lots of tradition and magic at play. The most instantly likable thing about this book was definitely Meg. She's artistic and expresses herself through graffiti, and I love how the book has chosen to use that as an art form rather than something frowned upon. The descriptions of the artwork that Meg has come to admire and look up to, such as that of her favourite graffiti artist E3 really shows how passionate these people are and what talent they have. And you could feel that passion coming from Meg. What also really endeared me to her was that she is completely grounded and kind, despite the fact she is surrounded by pretty horrible people. Her mother is an MP who is determined her daughter should act and look a certain way, and the way she treats Meg is just plain cruel. Seeing Meg trying to battle against that whilst all the time remaining the same likable self just left me really rooting for her. Then there's her friends at school who are the sort of typical popular types. Meg is from a wealthy background yet she's nothing like the snobby girls she has to go to school with. She has to deal with a lot of peer pressure from her friends as well, for example when it comes to the pressure to have a boyfriend or sleep with a guy. I liked that she was different. I love it when you can see yourself being friends with a character, and that's how I felt about Meg. Once Meg breaks away from her old life and integrates herself with the Skulk, we meet some great new characters. I really liked Addie and Blackwell who sort of take Meg under their wings, plus Mo who appears slightly later in the book. At times there were maybe a few too many characters to get my head around and by the end I was struggling a bit with who was who. I'm not good with lots of characters! There were plenty of fast paced action scenes and a great underlying mystery surrounding a magical stone that kept he pace moving and stopped my attention from wavering. The writing was snappy and vivid and had me really wrapped up in the setting. I loved the unique feel to Skulk. It didn't feel like any other book I'd read, and I adored just how British it was. I think the first half was slightly more enjoyable than the second half for me, as I preferred the gritty urban fantasy side of the story, and later on in the book it became more complex. The ending of the book certainly suggests that there's more to the story and I hope it's continued into a series. I think there's so much potential for the world Best has created and those brilliant characters. Find more books like this at TotalTeenFiction!
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    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 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!You can read this review and others on my blog: http://draumrkopablog.wordpress.com/
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  • Lisbeth Avery {Domus Libri}
    January 1, 1970
    Skulk starts off very slowly and awkwardly. In fact, these pages were so off-putting to me, that I dropped it the same day I picked it up, around the 60 page mark, for a few weeks before reading it again. The writing coupled with the main character just put me off entirely.But today I picked it up again. I also finished it on the same day because I didn't stop reading for an hour and a half after finding it again. After the initial hundred pages, the plot picks up at an extraordinary speed and t Skulk starts off very slowly and awkwardly. In fact, these pages were so off-putting to me, that I dropped it the same day I picked it up, around the 60 page mark, for a few weeks before reading it again. The writing coupled with the main character just put me off entirely.But today I picked it up again. I also finished it on the same day because I didn't stop reading for an hour and a half after finding it again. After the initial hundred pages, the plot picks up at an extraordinary speed and the book really starts. I am so so happy that I did end up picking Skulk up again because I really enjoyed it. It's not a brilliant book in terms of originality or writing or plot, but it's very enjoyable.The novel begins with Meg, our protagonist, escaping from her house, with a backpack filled with spray paint, with one goal - to cover the walls of her high school with her art. However, things take a turn for the worse when she finds a dying fox. A fox which changes into a man. From then on, her life is forever changed when she develops the ability to shapeshift into a fox and discovers a group of secret organisations of ravens, rats, spiders, butterflies, and foxes.The first quarter of the book was bogged down by rich girl idiocy, you know the average 'oh my god I'm so rich and ugh my life sucks I'm going to be rebellious because I'm bored'. But it doesn't take Meg to get her head back into the game, thankfully.One of the first things that will strike you while reading Skulk is how Meg's voice really shines through. She's not your average heroine. She doesn't have an overwhelmingly large hero complex, nor a damsel one. Often, in YA lit at least, you have two types of female characters. The very 'feminine' ones and the very 'butch' ones.Meg was very likable as she wasn't either of them. She wasn't scared to be assertive or tell people that they're being douches and she also had friends who liked things like makeup and boys. I don't know about you but I think that's pretty cool stuff.Also, guess what, we've got a larger character (¡main character!) who's pretty fine with her weight and doesn't end up skinny by the end! The shapeshifter aspect was pretty unique actually. Instead of the average wolf shapeshifters, we have freaking butterfly and spider shapeshifters. How awesome is that?? I jus t really love it. I've always wanted raven and spider shapeshifters uwu.Another good thing is that I now know the words for a group of ravens, spiders, and butterflies. Frick yeah.The plot is like really really good. It's not really original but it's very good. Like, 'I can't put down this book long enough to maintain homeostasis' good. Rosie Best's storytelling is superb and I can't believe this book doesn't have more hype.I really recommend this book to everyone. The beginning is a bit rocky but the rest of the book makes up for it. It's got everything you'd ever want - a badass main character, shapeshifting, cute boys, cute girls, murder. Go borrow/preorder/buy/steal it now!
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  • Online Eccentric Librarian
    January 1, 1970
    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Now that was a fun book with a unique plot, likeable characters, surprising twists, and diversity that is so lacking in the YA urban fantasy. It is by all means a YA book but it doesn't pander to its audience nor use the genre as an excuse for weak writing. The plot outline on the back only outlines a superficial view of the storyline - to give any more away would be to spoil the great development that will come as our f More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Now that was a fun book with a unique plot, likeable characters, surprising twists, and diversity that is so lacking in the YA urban fantasy. It is by all means a YA book but it doesn't pander to its audience nor use the genre as an excuse for weak writing. The plot outline on the back only outlines a superficial view of the storyline - to give any more away would be to spoil the great development that will come as our first person perspective in the character of Meg. But it also means it is more than a bit misleading at how good this book really is - once you start reading, it is so wonderfully drawn, the characters interesting and especially diverse (with characters at all social levels (wealthy to living in boxes), all ethnicities (Indian, Southest Asian), religions (muslim, christian, none), ages, and more), thin and large people,) that you get a distinct and very real feel of London society.To contradict the plot outline you'll find on the back of the book, this isn't about random shapeshifting and a teen having fun with it. Nor is it about a rich girl and her angst over a frustrating home life. What it is about is a group of interesting and distinct characters and how they all react to the action/situation that unfolds, revolving around the center character of Meg. Meg herself, as well, is an interesting and likeable character who doesn't have all the answers but also comes through and takes charge when needed. She is neither weak/helpless nor unbelievable gung ho save the world warrior. She works with the other characters to solve the issues with which she is presented.There is a lot of great action, dread, some scary parts, and some violence. There is also the beginning of a very tentative romance based upon mutual respect of each other's art and not how someone looks (in fact, no one is described as beautiful or gorgeous). For once, no insta-love in a YA urban fantasy! As well, there's no inappropriate romantic interaction in the middle of life-death consequences. People are afraid, people die, and people act as people do - from homophobia, to selfishness (which is a strong theme throughout the book), to self sacrifice. The romance is definitely secondary to the threat in the story - as it should be.In addition to the great world building, mythology, and characters, there is also some interesting sociopolitical undercurrents worthy pondering later. They aren't belabored in the story but they do provide more depth in the story and help explain or even justify a lot of the ways that characters respond to the threats/situations around them.This is one series for which I am greatly looking forward to the sequel. My highest recommendations for a great young adult series well worth reading for its depth, diversity, and great worldbuilding/characters.Received as an ARC from the publisher.
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  • Christopher Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    SKULK, Action, Romance, Mystery, and BanksyThank you to Strange Chemistry for allowing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.The front of Rosie Best’s Skulk holds all the intrigue of a summer blockbuster, from a clandestine tunnel and mismatched silhouettes-on-a-mission, to the centerpage Skulk embellishment screaming, “MORTAL KOM-BAT!” And that’s just the cover.Admittedly, when I heard that this was a YA shifter novel—about werefoxes and other not so terrifying critters—I was SKULK, Action, Romance, Mystery, and BanksyThank you to Strange Chemistry for allowing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.The front of Rosie Best’s Skulk holds all the intrigue of a summer blockbuster, from a clandestine tunnel and mismatched silhouettes-on-a-mission, to the centerpage Skulk embellishment screaming, “MORTAL KOM-BAT!” And that’s just the cover.Admittedly, when I heard that this was a YA shifter novel—about werefoxes and other not so terrifying critters—I was hesitant, half expecting a Disney- cute teen fable. Man, I was WAY off! Deliciously not for you precious butterflies with weak tummies, Skulk journeys through the complete gamut of emotion with a great plot, living characters, and unforgettable voice, all merging into one beautiful and sometimes grisly story.Ms Rosie Best has a gift for voice that gets into you and pulls you right into the maelstrom life of her teenage protagonist, Margaret “Meg” Banks, feeling every pounding heartbeat along the way. Themes of self-confidence and acceptance are bolstered by Meg’s strength of character as she stands her ground against judgment and arrogant superficialness of society, placing her high in ranking for a new teen role model. All heart and incredible fortitude, I fell in love with her from jump. The dialogue is fresh and realistic with plenty of modern iconology, the inclusion of street art culture impressive to say the least. I particularly found Ms Best’s cleverly embedded motifs and homage to Banksy quite a delight.In terms of setting, the different “shifts” are executed through well researched attention-to-detail, realistic differentiation of animal/ insect senses, and social habits unique to each critter clan or “weard;” all framed in an environment that also shifts from a mundane city to a much darker parallel smacking of Silent Hill. I mentioned earlier not for the squeamish: there is a point when Skulk became a full contact sport and I thought, “Sweet, Watership Down…” and then continued with my mouth open when it seemed there was no staunching the crimson flow. If you’re reading this, Ms Best, I strongly recommend Sam Raimi handle the movie production, especially the fog scenes and bird peeps! Ahhh.... sweet romance. Saving the best for last, this is not your typical conflict-riddled love interest. I’m not giving it away, but it ties into the final and strongest theme: maintaining a pure heart. One of the most rewarding romance arcs I’ve found in a long time, proving the power of love to overcome.Skulk is a must-read and the best part, there are more to come. Enjoy!
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  • Tabitha
    January 1, 1970
    Skulk is an imaginative new take on the shifter mythos. I haven’t seen it done in this way before. Skulk features a handful of different shifters, foxes, rats, ravens, butterflies, and spiders.We are reading things from Meg’s perspective. She’s a rich kid but that spoiled persona that pops to your mind when I say “rich kid” can’t be further from the truth. Her mother is a tyrant who physically and mentally abuses her all because she doesn’t live up to her standard of beauty. Though Meg is a size Skulk is an imaginative new take on the shifter mythos. I haven’t seen it done in this way before. Skulk features a handful of different shifters, foxes, rats, ravens, butterflies, and spiders.We are reading things from Meg’s perspective. She’s a rich kid but that spoiled persona that pops to your mind when I say “rich kid” can’t be further from the truth. Her mother is a tyrant who physically and mentally abuses her all because she doesn’t live up to her standard of beauty. Though Meg is a size 16 I don’t think of her as overweight, even if her mother does. You would think she might have low self esteem but she seems to be a well rounded individual and a good person to boot.When she ends up with the ability to transform into a fox she is so excited until all manner of things start to go crazy for her. She starts being stalked by spiders…and well who wants to see a bunch of spiders?Another bloody spider. I don’t like spiders. Nobody likes spiders. It’s the legs, they’re just wrong. – pg 73Meg eventually meets all the other shifters as well and is on a mission to stop a killer fog and a very evil woman from stealing from each shifter group a precious stone that they are set to protect.There are a few topics that I think Rosie Best was trying to speak to in Skulk that she handled rather nicely. Individual identity, parental abuse, and discrimination of the LGBT community.Supporting characters worthy of note are Addie and Mo. They stand out more so than the other characters. Addie was the only one that I felt I could really see and feel as being a real person. The others I thought could have been strengthened more.Overall, I think Skulk was a great story and I really liked Meg. I do think there were some areas that could have been improved upon in the character behavior and reactions areas where Meg is concerned. Namely, her reaction to the violence and death that she sees. I don’t know of anyone that would have witnessed someone die and not told someone about it. I also felt the villain was not as well written as she could have been and we got the info dump, villain monologue at the end of the book that I am not a fan of. Still it was an engaging read that I finished in two sittings and I would recommend it to those that like paranormal/shifter fiction.
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  • Olivia (Bookcomet)
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, I'm not gonna lie: my expectations for this book weren't exactly extremely high. And before you go off skulking (geddit?!) let me explain.You see, I'm not terrible keen on shapeshifter/talking animal books. Werewolves aren't too bad but generally, this is a no-go area for me. But what can I say? I was pleasantly surprised by Skulk. Hoesntly, I wasn't completely wrapped in the shapeshifter business, but really I thought that the author pulled it off quite well. I absolutely loved the way th Okay, I'm not gonna lie: my expectations for this book weren't exactly extremely high. And before you go off skulking (geddit?!) let me explain.You see, I'm not terrible keen on shapeshifter/talking animal books. Werewolves aren't too bad but generally, this is a no-go area for me. But what can I say? I was pleasantly surprised by Skulk. Hoesntly, I wasn't completely wrapped in the shapeshifter business, but really I thought that the author pulled it off quite well. I absolutely loved the way that the author had seamlessly incorporated London into this book. I could really vividly picture it and it was actually one of the things I loved most about this book. I have never come across a main character who does graffiti before. It was really interesting to see it from a different perspective, rather than just the defacing scribble of juvenile delinquents as it tends to be portayed as (or at least where I live). It was really cool to see it talked about as an actual art form with passionate supporters. Overall I thought that Skulk was entertaining enough. The pacing was reasonable and I really liked the world that the author had created, with all the different stones and species (if that's what you'd call them). I wasn't super into the romance, at least not at first. I think that it grew on me after a while. I actually lost interest in the story a bit towards the end as well. Probably my major issue with this book is the unrealistc reactions the main character had to a certain couple events. I am going to go ahead and describe them because they happen very early on in the book. First off, the main character witnesses someone shapeshift, and then die at the hands of a vicious fog in front of her eyes (keeping in mind she doesn't actually know shapeshifters are real until that moment) and then her basic reaction is along the lines of 'yeah, alright'. Really? And then she HERSELF shapeshifts for the first time, and yet again, she barely even reacts. I think that this book was alright. It's the kind of book you pick up should the chance present itself. 3/5 comets
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  • Megs
    January 1, 1970
    Skulk is a very unique and enjoyable take on shifters. The world building is where this one shone for me. I liked the structure and system of shifters that Rosie Best put together.Meg is a likeable main character that I immediately felt for. Not only has she been thrust into this crazy shifter world full of politics and mysteries and betrayals, but she has some crazy stuff going on at home. I also really liked that she actually had a hobby! So often I find that girls in YA books don't actually d Skulk is a very unique and enjoyable take on shifters. The world building is where this one shone for me. I liked the structure and system of shifters that Rosie Best put together.Meg is a likeable main character that I immediately felt for. Not only has she been thrust into this crazy shifter world full of politics and mysteries and betrayals, but she has some crazy stuff going on at home. I also really liked that she actually had a hobby! So often I find that girls in YA books don't actually do anything other than talk to their friends and fall in love with cute boys. In high school, I was always playing sports, participating in our school trivia club (major nerd) or horseback riding, so I love seeing heroines with interests as well.There was one major thing that bothered me on this one and that was Meg mother. She was so horrible, to the point where it was unrealistic and negatively affected my enjoyment of the book. What kind of woman locks all kitchen cupboards because she thinks her daughter is overweight? And then slaps her, calls her a bitch and locks her in a closet for hours when she's caught eating some almonds? I mean really.The other minor complaint that I have is that Meg was a bit slow at the end when it came to figuring out what was really going on. I had called in chapters before. However, that part didn't bother me much and I still enjoyed the store.I mentioned early that the world building on this one was done well. It was just such a unique concept that I appreciated. The other area where this one shone was with the secondary characters (with the exception of Meg's mom). I totally fell in love with Addie and James and Mo and Susanne. When I love that many secondary characters, I know I've found something special.Skulk has a really unique premise that makes it stand out from all the other urban fantasy YA books being released. While a bit predictable, the world building and secondary characters (for the most part) were great in this one. I'd definitely recommend this one to reads who enjoy YA urban fantasy. Plus I love books set in London.
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  • Lucie Paris
    January 1, 1970
    An original and exciting plot.From the beginning of the book, I was excited about this girl who draw graffiti on the walls of London, who finds herself faced with a supernatural murder and who receive some strange power. From the time when Meg gets the ability to transform into a fox, her life changed. And that's good because her life was pretty crappy.Seemingly, Meg lives the life of a princess. In private, her mother belittles her and abuse of her authority. As for her father, he conveniently An original and exciting plot.From the beginning of the book, I was excited about this girl who draw graffiti on the walls of London, who finds herself faced with a supernatural murder and who receive some strange power. From the time when Meg gets the ability to transform into a fox, her life changed. And that's good because her life was pretty crappy.Seemingly, Meg lives the life of a princess. In private, her mother belittles her and abuse of her authority. As for her father, he conveniently looks away. So Meg's new ability and be part of a new clan: the Skulk, gives her a new form of freedom. But it was without counting on the trail of bodies that seem to follow the girl. Without counting on an evil creature try to stole the powers that reside in the rocks associated with the different clans of shapeshifters...Intrigue, suspense, paranormal and a touch of romance, this YA story, quite dark, charmed me. Certainly, there are lengths in the onset of action and can be a little confusing with all the details and problems between clans but once these details are under control, Rosie Best has a written a wonderful story.I liked the use of new animals, less common than wolves, for the clans of shapeshifters. The idea of evil pigeons is also superb. For all the people who live in big cities, these birds are a nightmare and the author has beautifully highlighted them. I also liked that Mo, the great male hero, is a butterfly. For once, the male hero is not in possession of all the coolest powers... And Mo does not seem to be bothered by this idea!I have hooked up with Addie, James and Susanne too. Honestly all the characters have different and rich personnality and the reader spent a great time with them while turning the pages.Great discovery. I liked the original plot that changes from the paranormal stories I usually read.Luciehttp://newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr...
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  • Algel Crestfall
    January 1, 1970
    The plot caught me, shapeshifters? They're my kind of fantasy creatures aside from vampires! This is my first time to read something focused about humans shifting into ravens, spiders, butterflies, and rats. And I learned new collective terms like horde and rabble.I like Meg's personality. How artistic she is by putting into art whatever she feels. Especially the portrait of her mother. I love how she left her artworks/graffiti on walls, bathroom doors and elsewhere she likes. I love to draw, to The plot caught me, shapeshifters? They're my kind of fantasy creatures aside from vampires! This is my first time to read something focused about humans shifting into ravens, spiders, butterflies, and rats. And I learned new collective terms like horde and rabble.I like Meg's personality. How artistic she is by putting into art whatever she feels. Especially the portrait of her mother. I love how she left her artworks/graffiti on walls, bathroom doors and elsewhere she likes. I love to draw, too. But I still don't have the guts to leave my marks anywhere I like. And I salute Meg for that because for me, it's not vandalism. It's art.Then, Meg became a fox shifter when she witnessed the death of one member of the Skulk. I don't understand how easily she was able to adjust with the change. She enjoyed it immediately, when in fact, she shouldn't. I mean, shouldn't she panic about it at first? Freak out? Get scared? Ask questions and seek answers out of nowhere?There's a lot of bloody scenes in the story. And I don't like it because I don't get it. Why were those kids at school got killed? Who covered the whole story about it?To be honest enough, half of the book bored me. Most of the scenes were about searching for some shifter and it's clear that there's an argument among the animal shifter but the reason was not stated. So I don't really know who I should dwell to. Plus, the villain was nearly lost in the book. It focused too much on the fight among the shifters which is not clear why.Most of the scenes in the story wasn't clear and gave me a lot of questions.Well, I love the part where Meg discovered who this "E3" is and what's the real meaning behind the artist's codename. Overall, it was okay. The writing and word building is good. I just hope there's a next installment that will make things better and clearer for me.
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  • Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
    January 1, 1970
    Quite liked SKULK. It was a fun adventure and Ms. Best did a damn good job bringing her world to life.To be honest it took me a while to settle in and get cozy with the story, but once I did I found myself caring about the characters and hoping that a second book would be forthcoming.One of the things I liked was that the romance worked and it stayed in the background where it belonged. Meg's and Mo's affection wasn't insta-love and it didn't dominate the story. I also liked that the villains an Quite liked SKULK. It was a fun adventure and Ms. Best did a damn good job bringing her world to life.To be honest it took me a while to settle in and get cozy with the story, but once I did I found myself caring about the characters and hoping that a second book would be forthcoming.One of the things I liked was that the romance worked and it stayed in the background where it belonged. Meg's and Mo's affection wasn't insta-love and it didn't dominate the story. I also liked that the villains and other humans weren't caricatures. Their negative qualities are ones you can see around you, if you look hard enough. One other thing I'd like to mention was that the author did an excellent job drawing the class distinctions. Nothing in your face, just well done.SKULK is a book that's going to require a modicum of Suspension of Disbelief. There's violence but nothing overly graphic. Some cursing. The only situation I can think of that might make the book unsuitable for some middle-graders is when someone tried to feel Meg up. RECOMMEND TO those in the mood for a fantasy that doesn't stretch your credibility. Accept shape-shifters in our modern times and you are good to go. I found it a bit slow to start, but found SKULK to be well worth the time.Pam T~--Thanks to Strange Chemistry for the review copy
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  • Jana (My Messy Chapters)
    January 1, 1970
    Isn't it the best feeling ever when you start a book and had no expectations at all, and when you finish you're like OMG THAT WAS ONE EPIC BOOK?! You all should be preparing for when this hits shelves in October, trust me, you'd want this book! Shapeshifters, London, betrayal, action - everything that you'd want in your paranormal. First, I adore that this book is set in London. Like, how many books mention London colleges and schools? I felt so cool when I was reading about them and I'm like I Isn't it the best feeling ever when you start a book and had no expectations at all, and when you finish you're like OMG THAT WAS ONE EPIC BOOK?! You all should be preparing for when this hits shelves in October, trust me, you'd want this book! Shapeshifters, London, betrayal, action - everything that you'd want in your paranormal. First, I adore that this book is set in London. Like, how many books mention London colleges and schools? I felt so cool when I was reading about them and I'm like I live near there! I know that place! Lol. And the main character Meg seems like a person that is realistic and relatable. She's a very normal teenager and has the usual problems. Also, even though I love romance in my books (and don't worry, this book does have romance), it wasn't too much. It didn't distract from the story at all and it's really just a beginning of a relationship. And, they're both artists! Double yay! The whole shapeshifters and their groups was very fascinating to learn about. Can I be a butterfly please? :) The action and suspense throughout the book was never missing and there's a whole lot of twists and betrayals that you would never see coming. I really do hope you give Skulk a read when it comes out as it's such a worthy and enjoyable paranormal!
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  • Ryan Lawler
    January 1, 1970
    A high 3.5. I did enjoy this book. It was fast paced and kinda fun. The characters were great, I quite liked Meg and a few of her new shifter buddies. The graffiti culture is well implemented. The shifter mechanics and shifter lore was well constructed too.But' The plot was lightweight and a little flimsy. Something about a fog monster stealing sacred shifter stones for nefarious purposes, and our hero wants to protect the remaining stones and stop the fog monster. It never really got much more A high 3.5. I did enjoy this book. It was fast paced and kinda fun. The characters were great, I quite liked Meg and a few of her new shifter buddies. The graffiti culture is well implemented. The shifter mechanics and shifter lore was well constructed too.But' The plot was lightweight and a little flimsy. Something about a fog monster stealing sacred shifter stones for nefarious purposes, and our hero wants to protect the remaining stones and stop the fog monster. It never really got much more complex than that, which is fine, I just thought it had plenty of room to go deeper.Full review is now up on Fantasy Book Review
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  • a_tiffyfit
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come for book tour. Preview of review: 1) I have yet to be disappointed by Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry. 2) OMG that ending! Is there more?! WHEN WILL THERE BE MORE? This book doesn't even publish til October 1, 2013. I'm in for a bit of a wait, yeah?
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  • Koeur
    January 1, 1970
    http://koeur.wordpress.com/2013/09/01...
  • Milo (BOK)
    January 1, 1970
    The Review; http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/09/.... “An excellent read. Unpredictable and enthralling with a death count that most YA Authors never reach in entire series, let alone one novel, Rosie Best makes a fantastic arrival to the Urban Fantasy scene delivering a stunning read that you shouldn’t pass up on.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields"To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Onl The Review; http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/09/.... “An excellent read. Unpredictable and enthralling with a death count that most YA Authors never reach in entire series, let alone one novel, Rosie Best makes a fantastic arrival to the Urban Fantasy scene delivering a stunning read that you shouldn’t pass up on.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields"To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare."I’ll admit I wasn’t feeling that I would enjoy this book going into it. I requested the review copy on a bit of a whim, when I was in need of books to read during my Holiday/Vacation to France a few weeks ago, when I managed to get access to Wifi on my Kindle Fire. And well, I went into it not expecting much – the book had ‘paranormal romance’ written all over it, and as you’re probably aware, paranormal romance is something I don’t do. However, to my surprise – I found that my expectations that I went into Skulk with were not just wrong, in fact – they couldn’t be more wrong. Whilst there is a relationship – it’s something that doesn’t feel like a cliche, coming across as fresh and doesn’t fall into the trap of being insta-love. This helps Meg Banks, the lead character – match up with the likes of other strong female characters that we’ve seen from previous Strange Chemistry books, and even outclasses them in some cases. However, it’s safe to say that Meg reaches the ranks of Julie (Poltergeeks), Gene (Pantomime) and Kyra (The Woken Gods) - all of whom are awesome female leads. She’s therefore among my favourite Strange Chemistry characters that I’ve read to date – allowing for a unique read that sees the book move along at a very fast pace.Meg’s character is interesting. Like Tom Pollock’s Beth from The City’s Son, she has a secret life as a graffiti artist. This plays a big role in the book, as Best actively uses the graffiti-angle of the book successfully and manages to weave it into the overall narrative without interfering or the weakening of the overall concept. Meg’s first person narrative is consistently strong all the way through the book, and this works both to the advantage and disadvantage of Skulk. It allows Best to get us used to a confident, strong, likeable and interesting lead character – but one thing that this book suffers from is the massive supporting cast. It seems almost inevitable with a massive cast that not everybody is going to come across as well rounded or engaging as Meg, but you can tell that Best certainly tries to flesh out as many characters as she can. There’s Mo, one of the key male characters in the book, and James, the camp jewel thief. Both of them belong to different Shapeshifter groups. Mo to the Rabble (butterflies) and James is an exile from the Skulk, the main group which Meg joins, because of the stubborn leader Don, who unfortunately falls into the one-dimensional typical jerk leader category. Aside from a couple of other characters, the majority of the cast, such as Meg’s friends who aren’t clued in on the shapeshifter society that she has stumbled into suffer from not really having the page time to develop enough to make us care about them.The book, as one would expect with a high-death count, is pretty unpredictable. Best manages to make it weave along at a very fast pace, easily planting this novel in the page-turning category. It’s a quick and captivating read, that you should blitz through. Skulk is compelling as well, and while there is a clear line between evil and good – it never really falls into the ‘grey’ category when it comes to morality – but that doesn’t mean you won’t be surprised as not all allegiances are set in stone. Whilst the overall concept may also need a bit of suspension of disbelief in order for you to enjoy, all you really have to do is accept that shape shifters are real here. Best writes a strong, distinctive portrayal of the characters when they’re in animal form, and the scenes where Meg was in her animal form was interesting to read about. The book allows for a variety of shapeshifters, Foxes, Ravens, Rats, Butterflies and Spiders. As with multiple groups, you can expect that they don’t all get on very well – differences and rivalries are explored as the book goes, serving as an interesting dynamic as well as a way to introduce more tension when you find that the enemy is pretty much presented as a unified front, with spies pretty much everywhere.As a result, Skulk is one of the most unpredictable reads from a Young Adult book that I’ve read in a while. It’s a lot of fun, and whilst I feel that there was a wasted opportunity with the cover, as it really lacks the incentive to draw you in,and I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up in a bookshelf without a lot of praise. In fact, one of the few reasons why I gave this book a chance was because it is a London-set urban fantasy, which I am a complete sucker for, and the fact that it’s a Strange Chemistry book. Like Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry have failed to produce a title that I haven’t already liked so far, and with Jonathan L. Howard’s Katya’s World sitting on my TBR pile, I can safely say that this is one publisher that you should keep an eye on. Much like Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry are producing a set of books that are normally exceptionally high quality, doing wonders in the YA subgenre. Skulk is another addition to the ranks of the mighty Strange Chemistry titles – and one that I can recommend to all fans of Young Adult books. Certainly worth your time.VERDICT: 4/5
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  • Isis
    January 1, 1970
    I would really like to thank Strange Chemistry for generously giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. The fact that I received this book for free has no impact on the content of my review.While this book is categorized Sci Fi & Fantasy, plus Teens & YA, I do think that those on the cusp of Teens could handle the book, knowing that there are some fairly graphic scenes of violence.Goodreads Description:When Meg witnesses the dying moments of a shapeshifting fox and I would really like to thank Strange Chemistry for generously giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. The fact that I received this book for free has no impact on the content of my review.While this book is categorized Sci Fi & Fantasy, plus Teens & YA, I do think that those on the cusp of Teens could handle the book, knowing that there are some fairly graphic scenes of violence.Goodreads Description: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.Meg lives in London with her parents; her father a mentally checked out financial wizard who seems to have no use for Meg one way or the other, her mother a Member of Parliament and a royal bitch who considers Meg a huge disappointment for not looking exactly as she does, a perfect size two.So it's really not that surprising that Meg, a girl who has been abused by her mother her entire life, rebels once she's in her teens. Though her graffiti it isn't about rebellion for her, but rather her method of expressing herself for the world to see, even if it is essentially anonymous with just her tag "Thatch" to mark it as her work. The new piece she's got planned this night is perfect for the canvas she plans to use - the Kensington's School for Girls, which rather coincidentally happens to be her school. She puts lots of effort into the piece, with the thought of her hero "E3" in the back of her mind. A really notorious tagger around London, she is probably their biggest fan, at least in her mind. All of this is a subtle background noise while she works. Right before it is time to split to avoid getting caught by the groundskeepers a fox stumbles through the hedge, startling her. She can see that it is hurt and slowly makes her way toward it to try and see if she can help it somehow, when suddenly it shudders and begins turning into a man. Meg trips over her feet trying to get away, and when she looks up again she is staring into a man's eyes. Dying he begs her to take the stone near him that he'd been carrying in his mouth while in fox-form, but doesn't survive long enough to explain why. Feeling badly for him and more than a little freaked, Meg grabs the stone and bolts for home.Meg is this really great character - after all she's been through in her family, and growing up with more money than they could ever need, she is actually a grounded person with a good heart. Even after she discovers that she can turn into a fox she doesn't lose it, instead she opts to enjoy the novelty of it. Addie, a member of the Skulk tasked with finding the new shifter, tracks Meg down. She introduces herself to Meg while still in fox-form and brings her to where the Skulk meet. Of the five members Meg really only cares for Addie and James, and Addie definitely comes first. Maybe because it is clear that she is young and Meg feels compelled to protect her. It is through Addie & James that she gets a quick education about the other shifters: spiders, rats, butterflies, and ravens.Shortly after becoming a shifter lots of strange things begin to happen. There is a mysteriously lethal fog that apparently only shifters can see. Then Meg meets an older man from the Raven shifters, based out of the Tower of London, who tells her far more about the shifters, their history & purpose. So when groups begins to lose the stone they are set to protect Meg realizes something is up. And though the newest member she seems most invested in helping fix things. Sure, part of that comes from having been kidnapped by an evil sorceress who turns her parents into evil pigeons, but it also comes from her heart.Addie, a runaway living as a fox full-time, is the first to believe Meg's story and help her. In doing so Addie is exposed to some shocking sights, sights which for Meg are both shocking & heartbreaking. Yet rather than make Meg back off she only becomes more determined to stop this horrid sorceress and fix things, at least as much as they can be.In the course of her adventures Meg ends up meeting Mo, one of the butterfly shifters. And wouldn't you know it, Mo turns out to be Meg's tagger hero "E3." Mo is really excited to learn that Meg is a tagger too, especially when he learns he's seen some of her work, and he in turn is impressed by her work. Mo almost immediately becomes very protective of Meg, something she is afraid she may be reading too much into.For all the action going on in this book, it is the characters that really pull the story together for me. If I didn't care about Meg the story wouldn't work half as well. And her willingness to do what is right, even at the risk of her own life, just endears her to me even more. Not too mention seeing the difference between Meg and her girlfriends from school, which shows Meg in a flattering light to my eyes, though her friends were much nicer than I'd have expected them to be. It is all the little surprises like this that helped make this book a standout for me. From the way it ends I'm hoping for a sequel, sooner than later. Especially because not everything is resolved, and I still have questions. Granted I could live without ever discovering the answers, but if the sequel is anything like this book then I want the answers.
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  • Tsana Dolichva
    January 1, 1970
    Skulk by Rosie Best is the author's first novel, and what a début it was! It's a YA urban fantasy set in London I enjoyed it immensely from the very start. The main character is engaging and realistic and the fantasy worldbuilding is somewhat original. It even has a blurb which isn't entirely made of spoilers! (Well done, Strange Chemistry.)The first aspect that had me enjoying Skulk was Meg herself. She comes from a privileged background with a (Tory) politician mother and a CEO father and goes Skulk by Rosie Best is the author's first novel, and what a début it was! It's a YA urban fantasy set in London I enjoyed it immensely from the very start. The main character is engaging and realistic and the fantasy worldbuilding is somewhat original. It even has a blurb which isn't entirely made of spoilers! (Well done, Strange Chemistry.)The first aspect that had me enjoying Skulk was Meg herself. She comes from a privileged background with a (Tory) politician mother and a CEO father and goes to a good private school. Her mother is fairytale-level abusive, driven on in particular by Meg being a little overweight and her father is emotionally absent almost to the point of catatonia. She has friends at school (who come from similarly privileged backgrounds) but doesn't enjoy going out clubbing with them, preferring instead to stay home and later sneak out to draw scathing political graffiti around London. I first grew particularly attached to Meg when reading about her forays into socialising in situations she didn't want to be in, like at a club or her parents' political dinner party. It reminded me exactly of how I would've felt and acted as a teenager. (I have since learnt how to have a polite conversation with boring people, but I still have zero interest in clubbing.) It was nice to read about a socially awkward character without them being ridiculously awkward nor portrayed as the butt of a joke.What really pushed this book into five star territory for me, though, was Meg's reactions to the horrible things happening around her. When someone dies explosively in front of her, she throws up (runs away) and spends the rest of the night trembling in the foetal position. Like a normal person. And during the climax when she's pretty much running on adrenaline trying to save the world without having time to stop and reflect on the horrible things that have been happening, she has a panic attack and collapses (luckily at a non-crucial moment), again, like a normal person. It was refreshing to read about a character who had realistic responses to the horrible things going on around her, especially since the body-count in this one was fairly high. Not enough YA books do this. Which, as I was discussing earlier on Twitter (with DarkMatterzine, Speculatef and StuffedO), does not say anything good about our culture.Most of the book was about Meg dealing with her problems. Some of those problems were her mother's ridiculous expectations of perfection, and some were more along the lines of gaining the ability to turn into a fox. They weren't boring problems, but there wasn't an awful lot of room for secondary characters, except directly in relation to Meg's problems. That said, Best does an excellent job of introducing a broad range of secondary characters. One of the more prominent ones was Meg's love interest, Mohammed, who was introduced late but was brilliantly — albeit very coincidentally — set up. I don't like YA plots that revolve around love interests and this was not one of those. Meg is not looking for a boyfriend and when she does meet a boy she has a lot in common with, she recognises that she really doesn't have time for warm fuzzy feelings when there are lives at stake.Among the others, including bit players, Best includes several minority characters (gay, trans, homeless, disabled) some of whom only get a few lines of dialogue, but I'm hoping they'll play more pivotal roles in the sequel, after the cast has had time to regroup. I was particularly pleased with the existence of the spider-shifter who had cerebral palsy and had to be carried around by her friend. It came up just after I had been wondering whether human disabilities and illnesses carried over to the shifters' animal forms the way cuts and bruises clearly did.With all the positive points mentioned above, what more is there to say about Skulk? Well I quite liked the choice of possible animal shifters. Best chose urban animals which fit into her London setting. Not wolves, but foxes, spiders, ravens, rats and butterflies. Looking inconspicuous in animal form out on the street is not a problem for them. Not to mention that spider and butterfly shapeshifters are not something I've come across before. And the antagonist has an army of evil pigeon minions, which also seemed quite apt in an urban environment. Also, Meg's graffiti hobby takes her and the reader into London nooks that are off the tourist track and possibly not obvious to the casually passer-by. I felt I learnt more about present-day London (a city I've visited a couple of times as a tourist) than from any other book I remember reading recently.Suffice to say Skulk was an excellent read. I would highly recommend it to all fans of urban fantasy (YA or otherwise), particularly those after a different sort of magical premise. (Although I will say the saving the world aspect of the worldbuilding was a bit stock-standard — MacGuffins and all — but Best definitely made up for it with all the other elements.) I have very high hopes for the sequel, which I'm hoping will come out some time next year. Even if it doesn't exceed my expectations, I'm still looking forward to seeing what happens next to Meg, including some of the consequences of events in Skulk that didn't get revisited before the ending. This book made me happy. I hope other readers also enjoy it.5 / 5 starsYou can read more of my reviews on my blog.
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  • Mieneke
    January 1, 1970
    Rosie Best's Skulk was one of my Anticipated Reads of the second half of 2013 and while it took me long enough to actually read it, that label was completely justified. What drew me to the book were its London setting and the fact that its main supernatural element was shapeshifting. This sounded like it would be quite interesting and I was interested to see how Best would approach the shapeshifting, would she take the were-creature approach or go for something more innate such as the Japanese K Rosie Best's Skulk was one of my Anticipated Reads of the second half of 2013 and while it took me long enough to actually read it, that label was completely justified. What drew me to the book were its London setting and the fact that its main supernatural element was shapeshifting. This sounded like it would be quite interesting and I was interested to see how Best would approach the shapeshifting, would she take the were-creature approach or go for something more innate such as the Japanese Kitsune. Skulk promptly delivered on my expectations and more; the book was an awesome read with indeed a fantastic shapeshifter mythology seemingly untied to any existing tradition.The shapeshifting in the book took a completely different road from were-creatures or Kitsune-like spirits. The shapeshifters in Skulk can change at will and while their ability isn't in-born, they aren't infected through a bite or other violence. There is also a strictly limited number of sorts of shapeshifters. They can become foxes, spiders, butterflies, rats, or ravens. They each band together in factions, somewhat like a family, as there are always only six members of each faction. The story behind the creation of the shifters was quite cool. I loved the political manoeuvring of the different factions, some of them are somewhat neutral, others are outright enemies, but most of them have forgotten their origin and heritage. The different factions are given shape quite clearly with each having their own meeting place, which fits the character of their shifted shape quite well, such as the Tower for the ravens and Kew gardens for the butterflies. However, the people behind the animal shapes are varied and sometimes quite incongruent with the nature of their creature, such as one of the butterflies who turns out to be a seven-feet tall, massively muscled, and fit man; not exactly the type you associate with butterflies, unless you're into boxing of course.Meg's character is fabulous and has a really distinct voice. I like that she's a heroine with rough edges and that – to her mum's eternal disappointment – she's not your average teen in the looks-department, or rather she isn't a size zero, instead at size sixteen she's a little on the chubby side (if I've got my conversions right). Between a father who hardly seems to notice her and a mother who seems impossible to please when it comes to Meg, it's a wonder she's come out as nice as she does. Meg's parents are awful; especially her mum is evil and abusive, though one might say that her uninterested and negligent father is even worse. Meg finds her escape in her graffiti art, which I really enjoyed, especially as it gives her something in common with Mo and made their rather fast connection more plausible. I found the way Best plays Meg's desperate need to save her parents off her rather guilty relief at being free of her mum's pernicious treatment done really well and I could completely feel Meg's self-doubt when she realises her conflicting emotions. Because what sort of person wouldn't want to save their mum, however horrible she treats them? The answer obviously is a very human one, because only a saint would not be conflicted, and I loved the Best let Meg go there.Meg is surrounded by a wonderfully diverse cast, in character, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and race. Mo, short for Mohammed, is a lovely chap and a great love interest. But my favourite character next to Meg was Addie. A scrappy, homeless teenager, I loved her independence and her spunk, while at the same time just wishing I could take her in and feed her up. She's loyal and courageous and rather funny. Another wonderful supporting character was James. He was completely charming and the reason he is a bit of a magpie who prefers to remain in his fox form was quite touching. It made me rather sad that he'd think so little of himself, that he'd hide himself away. The bad guys were delicious and the true identity of the main antagonist was a complete surprise which I adored.The one problem I had with the novel is the portrayal of Ameera and Jewel, who were made to look flighty and shallow, obsessed with looks and boys, which on its own shouldn't be problematic, but it's done in a way that is rather judgemental and condescending on Meg's part. Given Meg's background with her mum's obsession with her weight and her social life it might be understandable in context, but it might be giving the wrong signal. I mean, it's not really slut-shaming, but it's also projecting a quite clear judgement on people who seemingly are more happy-go-lucky and – for lack of a better expression – in with the popular crowd.That one critical note aside, I had a fabulous time with Skulk. Best has created a great version of London and an intriguing shapeshifting mythology and used it as a base for an exciting and intricate puzzle of a mystery. Skulk was just the first book in Meg's adventure; its sequel Rabble will be out in the fall of next year and I'm really looking forward to find out what happens next.This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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  • robin
    January 1, 1970
    a good read but more than slightly predictable - unloved girl wanders into another world & becomes the most powerful of them?? & obviously there has to be a romantic subplot, right?!? but i really liked the inclusion of they/them pronouns, that was pretty rad!
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