My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I read Skin Hunger, I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic. It was disturbing at times, and I felt at a distance from the characters. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the book, and wondering what would happen to them. That was in December of 2007, but the world of the book stuck with me so completely that when I picked up a copy of Sacred Scars from the library, I started reading it on the walk home. While I couldn’t remember the plot of the first book in detail, Duey provides just enough information to remind the reader without doing a full recap. And, as I discovered, the world-building had been so successful that I was swept back up into it.
This time, I didn’t feel a distance from the characters in the same way, even though Hahp, in particular, wasn’t always likeable. The alternating storylines are set far apart in time, but how far apart we never quite know, and the distance shrinks quite a bit as the story progresses. Each storyline has its own tensions, but wondering when the two will meet adds a delicious third tension that made this nice fat novel fly by. Things wrap up a bit in the end, but it’s definitely a middle-of-a-trilogy story with plenty of things left hanging.
In terms of plot, the second volume is less puzzling than the first, because we know more about the relationships between all the characters. I felt like I was able to put together several pieces of the puzzle here, which got me wondering about how many clues had been in the first book and if I was too distracted by other things to figure them out. So I suppose I can go back and reread (this is a series that begs rereading) while I wait impatiently for the final installment.
This is definitely a YA series, with language and violence and a sense of darkness that would make it inappropriate for younger readers. Although the worlds are very different, it might appeal to the Megan Whalen Turner crowd for its complexity and world-building.