Skin Hunger is a book with two stories taking place generations apart. One story is about Sadima, a magician whose mother died the day she was born, and the "magician" helping her give birth robbed her family. The other is about Hahp, who is the son of a rich merchant who sent him to a wizard school, knowing he may well die. Sadima is approached at age 14 by a wizard named Franklin, asking her to join him and Somiss, his master, in the port city of Limori, where they are working to restore magic to a world where it is despised and feared, and there are many fraud magicians. Three years later, Sadima does travel to Limori to seek out Franklin. When she finds him, she joins him and Somiss, helping around the house and doing other menial tasks. Somiss's fervor for his mission frightens Sadima, but she has fallen in love with Franklin who cannot leave, as he is Somiss's slave. As she realizes the danger she is in with Somiss, whose father despises him, she attempts to persuade Franklin to run off with her. However, he refuses. Then, Sadima follows Franklin to a cave outside Limori. Inside, she finds some of the orphans from the streets trapped in a cage. She questions Franklin, who admits they are using the children, but refuses to help free them, explaining that Somiss will just get more from the city. She decides that there is nothing she can do. One night, men light Somiss's apartment on fire, hoping to catch him. They manage to escape with their lives. They set off into the caves to find the ancient home of magic. Hahp's story begins as he goes to the wizard academy. He is a roommate with Gerrard, a poor orphan who shouldn't be there. In the academy, Hahp and the other boys are starved until they figure out how to work the magic stone that gives them food. Franklin, their teacher, seems to regret their harsh conditions but fears the headmaster, Somiss. Many of the boys die before they can get food. Then, Hahp realizes he can make things other than food with the stone, and he makes a bar of soap to clean himself. He is then given new, clean robes that mean he has moved on. Gerrard steadfastly refuses help from Hahp, but Hahp gives him the soap so he can figure out how to make it himself. Gerrard makes soap and is given his own new robes. They are set to new tasks that none of the others have to do. Meanwhile, the boys have to memorize songs in a different language and recite them, and until they do, they will starve again. Hahp and Gerrard finally agree to work together to get through all of the tests set before them.
Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey is a great book for all young adults. It earns an eight out of ten from me. The way the two stories of Hahp and Sadima are woven together makes it far more interesting. It is similar to the book Holes in that one story is about a good boy and a poor orphan who build a friendship to overcome the troubles set before them, and that it has another story in the past that is closely connected to it. It was a bit boring at times, but the interesting parts made up for that. Another way it is set apart from other stories is that the magic is so much different than in any other book.
Content: Frightening, death
Rating (0 - 10 scale): 8
Reviewer Age: 13
Reviewer City, State and Country: Chambersburg, PA United States