I can’t believe it’s mid-November already. Time is speeding by.
And I just stared blankly out the window for a solid three minutes. Do I seriously have nothing more to say than that? This blogging every day thing does pose its own challenges.
How about a book review? Last week, I saw that the hardcover edition of The Turning Season could be had for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping and handling, and sorry, Catsongea, I bet you can’t get the same deal), so I took the plunge. I hadn’t read any of Shinn’s Shifting Circle books because I’d hit my uncertain purchase spot with her right before she started releasing them and they didn’t sound… well, I hadn’t bought them. They sounded bleak, I guess, and I’m not much of a fan of bleak.
So The Turning Season is the story of a shape-shifter, struggling to get by in a world — our world — that is not so friendly to those who are different. But she’s got friends, an ex-lover, clients — enough of a community of people who are either shifters or friendly to shifters that when she changes (randomly, not under her control), people show up to take over her responsibilities. The crux of the story is a gentle love story: she meets a guy, she likes him, he likes her, slowly she lets him into her world, things happen — some bad, some sad — but by the end, they are living happily ever after. Or, more realistically, happily until her early and untimely death, because in this series, shape-shifters die young because of the strain of the shifting on their bodies.
There are parts of the book that didn’t work so well for me. The fact that all shape-shifters are terrified that anyone will find out about their abilities and automatically hide from any chance of discovery is a cliche and not one that I think makes a lot of sense. The fear of the evil government locking up people who are different feels very 1950s to me, the Cold War mentality in action, and I really think that if there were shape-shifters in the world, at least a few of them would head to Hollywood. In the real modern world, if shape-shifters existed, they’d be on Jimmy Fallon and Ellen and all over social media. I think it would have been more plausible that all shape-shifters were terrified of discovery if the world had been a little farther away from this one, if there had been events in history that shaped their ideas of discovery. As it is, they’re all terrified of discovery but every time a new normal character learns about them, the reaction is basically, “Okay, cool.”
In the same vein, all the characters respond in a very similar way to a key event at the end and it didn’t work for me. Without spoiling it… well, no way to explain without spoiling, so I won’t. But ironically, one of the reasons that Shinn stopped being an auto-buy purchase for me is that in one of her previous books (Royal Airs), an ostensibly good character did something I found horrifying — an incredible violation of someone else’s bodily integrity — but it was presented very nonchalantly and didn’t bother the other characters. In this case, a character did something that made a lot of sense to me and all the characters were horrified. Perhaps I’ve lived in Florida too long. Anyway, I can’t explain it without giving a ton away, but it definitely broke me out of the story.
Those things said, though — Sharon Shinn can really, really write. Her work is lovely and lyrical. The characters were a pleasure to spend time with, the world was beautiful. The book is bittersweet, but oh, so moving. And while the story is definitely entertainment — essentially a cozy paranormal romance — it has a message, too. In the words of her narrator “I will start celebrating the gifts life brings me, no matter how bitter, on some days, they seem. And I will never, inside the curse, stop searching for the blessing.”
Worth the read. But now I should get back to writing a book of my own!
Today’s goal — just to get out of this damn scene I’ve been stuck on. I need to quit being all angst-y and just get on with things. But fingers crossed, today will be the day!