Tag: Shifting Circle series

Guest Review: Still Life With Shape-Shifter by Sharon Shinn

Posted March 21, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Tracy’s review of Still Life With Shape-Shifter (Shifting Circle #2) by Sharon Shinn

For her entire life, Melanie Landon has hidden the fact that her half-sister Ann is a shapeshifter—determined to protect Ann from a world that simply wouldn’t understand. After months of no contact, Melanie fears the worst when a man shows up on her doorstep saying he’s there about her sister. A freelance writer, Brody Westerbrook intends to include Ann in a book about the existence of shapeshifters. While Melanie is immediately drawn to the stranger, she knows revealing Ann’s secret isn’t an option. Protecting her sister has always been such an enormous part of Melanie’s life, but when Ann finally appears looking frail and sick, Melanie must come to grips with the fact that saving her may mean letting go..

This book is really two stories in one book. We follow Melanie and her life as she deals with the comings and goings of her sister, Ann, and the ups and downs of that. We also get to read about Janet and her life from the time she was 16 and helped an injured wolf in her back yard. While I think the book blurb told us a tiny bit of what happens in the story it doesn’t even begin to explain the emotional situations that this book delivers.

I kind of have to start at the beginning of the story with Ann and Melanie. Melanie’s father married a woman named Gwen who would disappear every once in a while and then come back like everything was wonderful. This was confusing for both Melanie and her father. When Melanie was 10 years old her father and Gwen had a baby. Melanie was pretty much her caretaker from day one as she was so in love with the baby. When she was watching Ann one day she put the baby into the crib, walked away for a minute or two and when she came back the baby was gone and in its place was an adorable white husky puppy. Melanie should have been alarmed but everything in her mind started to kind of make sense with Gwen and her comings and goings.

Since that time Melanie has been the adult. When Melanie was just 15 Gwen took off for good and Melanie’s father started losing his sense of reality and had to be in a home where he eventually died. Then it was just Mel and Ann and they loved each other to pieces. Now they’re adults and Mel worries when Ann is away in husky form but knows she’ll come home one day and everything will be good.

When Ann comes home for the first time in the story she tells Mel about the man, William, that she’s fallen in love with. Mel is a bit jealous that he’s around but learns to adapt to his presence. William alerts Mel that there’s something wrong with Ann. Ann denies this of course but as the days go on when she’s in human form she sleeps longer and longer.

Melanie meets Brody when he comes to the door asking about Ann and the fact that she’s a shapeshifter. After keeping the secret from almost everyone her whole life Mel’s not about to spew that info to a total stranger, especially one that’s going to write a book about shapeshifters. Brody likes Mel, however, so he keeps coming around and eventually they get together. Though he does learn the truth it’s not something he’s likely to share as he know it would be a betrayal of Mel.

Eventually Mel, William and Brody take Ann to a Vet who specializes in shapeshifters and they find out that Ann is basically dying. Whenever she shifts to human her organs start to give out because they can’t transform to the correct size to sustain her human needs.

The second story is about Janet. When she’s about 16 she helps an injured wolf in her back yard and eventually meets Cooper. She knows almost immediately that he is the wolf and they start a friendship and relationship that neither are prepared to give up, ever. The story takes us through Janet’s college years, their life, their love, and Janet’s eventual decision to try to come up with a serum that will keep Cooper in his human body forever. Janet and Cooper’s story took up much less page time than Melanie, Ann, Brody & William but I don’t think it actually took anything away from the intensity of their story.

The book is a very dark and somber tale of shapeshifters and those who love them, the lengths they’ll go to protect them and how it affects their lives. In this story shapeshifters lead very hard lives and because of the toll that the shifts have on their bodies they only live to be about 50 years old, if that.

At first I thought the book was going to be more of a tale of Melanie and Brody and a romance. I’ve read so many books about shapeshifters when they live extended lives, rather than abbreviated ones, that I assumed that it would be more of an upbeat book. It wasn’t at all. Yes, there were times of joy and happiness in the both storylines but overall it was extremely sad. Yes, there were definitely tears when I closed the last page and the story has stayed with me since I finished. I really liked it but even now as I write this and think about the book it makes me tear up a bit. The two love stories that were involved not only dealt with love of a significant other but that of family as well and that just really got to me. I think the author did such a great job of bringing us so many different emotions in a subtle way that each time it kind of snuck up on me.

Overall a very good book and one I would definitely recommend. Just know going into it that you’ll be on an emotional roller coaster the entire time, but in a good way.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Series:

Book Cover Book Cover

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This book is available from Ace. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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