Author: Rosie Best
Publication date: October 1st, 2013
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
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 realizes that she's also inherited the power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shodowy 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.
A copy of this book was provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
I have developed a tendency to request practically every book that is offered to me by the publicity department of Strange Chemistry. I have yet to find a book published by them that I do not either love or like quite a bit. Skulk was really no exception.
The story opens with a teenage girl from a privileged upbringing ventures out on a quest to paint a political statement on the wall of her all girl's upper-class school. What starts out as a simple act of rebellion and an attempt to express herself the best way she knows how, ends up becoming entry into a world she never would have imagined existed. She comes face-to-face with what she believes in a dying fox, but as she approaches the wounded creature cautiously, hoping she can find a way to ease it's suffering, the small orange and black creature shifts into a naked man covered in blood and dying right before her eyes with a cryptic message of "stay away from the fog..." and a bright blue gemstone laying beside him.
Meg stumbles home, shell-shocked and confused, to her absent and neglectful father and emotionally (and often physically) abusive mother. She soon comes to realize that she can shift into a fox much like the dying man could. Soon she finds she is not the only person in London with the ability. She meets men and women who can turn into foxes, spiders, rats, ravens, and, even, butterflies. They are guardians of these mysterious gemstones, one of which is in her possession.
Meg confronts crazed wizards, stubborn shapeshifters, suspicion, wonder, and even a dash of love in her quest to find herself and her purpose in life.
I found Skulk to be an original concept on shapeshifters. It was nice to branch out from the stereotypical wolf shifters into something vastly different. While there were some areas where I was a little put off by Meg's inability to realize things I had suspected early on in the story. Granted, Meg was meant to be kept in the dark until the very end, much as the way with most books. She just seemed a little duller than I would have liked her to be. I didn't find myself connecting with any of the characters in the book. I liked all of them alright, but I didn't feel any sort of resonating kinship with any of them. I wish I had since all of them were different in sexuality, race, and financial standing. Perhaps having so many differences was the reason I didn't find it as appealing. Being well rounded is one thing but attempting to cover EVERY difference in society makes the world seem a bit unrealistic. Nobody is the same? Odd.
Skulk is a world of wonder and intrigue that presents a conspiracy of mysteries and betrayal. It will keep you guessing and makes everyone a suspect.