Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reviewing Your Universe

The Shapeshifter’s Secret by Heather Ostler
Published by Cedar Fort, Inc.
ARC provided through NetGalley

Rating: 3 Stars

Julia is a 16-year old teenager with an extremely overprotective father. When she starts experiencing moments of uncontrollable rage she thinks she’s losing her mind. Then she’s shot at, taken to another world through portals, and discovers she’s a royal descendant of a shapeshifting family—and realizes she isn’t crazy. But her life has become more interesting and exceedingly complicated than she ever imagined. Trust becomes paramount as she is thrown into life-threatening situations. Can she turn to the father that kept secrets her entire life, new friends in a world she knows nothing about, or her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend to keep her safe?

First, what a fantastic cover! I love everything about it: the color, the design. I can see Julia as this beautiful young lady. I wish I could say the story grabbed me as hard as the amazing artwork. Though I enjoyed the premise and was interested in how things turned out, I had a few problems with the characters and plot.

Ms Ostler tried very hard to keep some of the juicier tidbits a surprise and dribble pieces of information as the plot unfolded. As an author, I understand the idea behind such a practice. As a reader, I was frustrated on occasion because I didn’t have enough information to grasp what some of the scenes really meant.

Take Julia’s father. He is exceedingly overprotective. After having read the entire story, he had reason to be. However, the reader doesn’t know that. As Julia is a 16-year old teenager, I expected a little more attitude and irritation over her father’s strangling hold. In fact, I really wanted Julia to demand answers sooner than any were revealed.

Paranormal elements are my favorite additions to novels. Again, Ms Ostler introduced several very interesting species of creatures in her new Ossain world. The water nymphs were especially cool…but we didn’t learn why they were part of this world or how they fit into this plot other than Julia’s best friend happened to be an orphan on Earth but was really a water nymph from Ossai. Yes, it’s a little too convenient, but I liked Sierra so it worked for me.

Caleb was a great character, but we never really learn a lot about him. He is a Guardsman in the Union Guard. He is also a werepanther. Totally hot, but he only hit the page in a two-dimensional aspect. In fact, most of the characters were two-dimensional. Personally, the plot felt a little rushed and I attribute the lack of development to that hurried feeling.

The Shapeshifter’s Secret is really for younger teens. Adults will find this novel a little too sweet and angsty, with unrealistic parental and teenaged relationships. Still, I enjoyed the story and am curious about what will happen in Ossai next. If the next novel’s characters and emotional development are more indepth, I’ll give it a shot!

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