– by Michelle Larkin
Ok, I feel like I owe it to Michelle Larkin to write a little bit of something about my experience with this book seeing that I might’ve been too hasty in relegating it to the bottom pile of my TBR list before! But for some reason, I picked this book to read and it was nothing like I expected. At all!
First, it was funny throughout, with lovable MCs and secondary characters! Never read a shape-shifter MC to be this funny, fun, and adorably likeable all throughout the story! Usually there’d be a layer of darkness in the shape-shifter, but Aspen, who’s also the “Chosen One” of the shape-shifting community, only had light in her. I absolutely loved all the funny, flirty, cheeky, mischievous banters between Aspen and Tora (the awkward, aloof, ice queen doc). In fact I loved the natural chemistry that Aspen seemed to have with everyone, particularly, Tora, Skye and her “pops,” Oscar! Their interactions, when you read the book, were portrayed with such authenticity that I believed they were like family. That was certainly a surprise to me because I didn’t get that kinda chemistry or rapport in dialogues from Larkin’s previous book.
In terms of the shape-shifter story, it was as expected – war between humans and shape-shifters, which Larkin used the term “Shrouds” as a substitute. I found it very interesting and appropriate to use that term because it’s all about masking, innit? I’d never heard of that term being used in urban fantasy before so that was another good thing. Aspen’s “shroud” was called a Myriad, but a special kind, hence being the chosen one. The characteristics of a myriad was fascinating to me because apart from the usual shape-shifting traits, I never read anything that resembled Aspen’s – multi-animal shifts on command, time travel??? Fascinating! Whilst the plot was not as heavy as the standard urban fantasy story, I found myself enjoying it very much mainly because of the dialogue, Larkin’s innate skill in writing funny, cheeky, facetious exchanges! Larkin’s sense of humour is just my cuppa!! OMG, between Aspen and Oscar, the father-daughter talk…guffaw! And then there was this absolutely hilarious interaction amongst the pack whilst talking about their strategy to strike back at the humans! Check it out:
“You want us to abduct someone from the SEA?”
“Not just anyone. I want the number one guy.”
“Do you have any intel on who that might—”
“Capturing the poor bastard and putting him out of his misery would be an act of mercy.”
“While we’re at it, we should consider adding his parents’ names to the list. What kind of parents would give their kid a name like that ?”
Honestly, I really never knew Larkin had THIS kinda dry sense of humour!! My kinda humour! Dry, facetious, cheeky and subtle! I love it!! Hmm, a whole new perspective about her work now. OK then….
Another point I’d like to make is that this story was subversively political with a social commentary about the real world, particularly, America. At least, that’s my interpretation upon reading the book. Larkin deftly weaved the plot about how humans treated shape-shifters, how the government actively sought to preach hate and ultimately eliminate all non-human species, subtly paralleling what’s happening in America with regards to the current Administration’s immigration policies, rising racial tensions, racism, bigotry and political and social polarisation amongst the population. I thought it was effectively told as it highlighted the relevance of the subject matter IRL and showcased the dangers, if left unheeded, of reverting back to what happened over 70 years ago.
Anyway, I’d recommend this book to readers who want to enjoy a light-hearted shape-shifting story with a bit of romance….but relentless (and hilarious!) strings of flirtations going on which I utterly enjoyed! Some creative manoeuvres in the characteristics of the shape-shifters, which was a plus. The only thing I have to pick on would be how it ended. I was like…no! Gimme more! But then, it wasn’t really a big deal because it wasn’t about that. So, I’m ok with it. Just the greedy me talking! Ignore me!
Get your copy from: