I read this book in candlelight with the backdrop of howling wind and torrential rain. The blackout we had yesterday created the perfect setting for r...moreI read this book in candlelight with the backdrop of howling wind and torrential rain. The blackout we had yesterday created the perfect setting for reading The Shape Shifter.
Skinwalkers, according to Navajo culture, are creatures that embody evil. They can change shape and form--and not for good purposes! So when retired Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn gets tangled up in a decades old mystery and finds himself face to face with a modern-day skinwalker, it takes everything he has to outwit him.
Hillerman is a masterful storyteller. The way he incorporates Native American mythology is fascinating. I loved the pacing in this book. Hillerman knows how to set up a story and create suspense. I also really liked how the book begins with Leaphorn telling his experience with "the shapeshifter" to his friends, segues into the story, then wraps up with Leaphorn leaving the end of the story in suspense for his friends until another time (though we, as the reader, know the ending). His characters are extremely likable, especially Leaphorn. Though this is the first Hillerman book I've read, it seems that Leaphorn is a recurring main character in his books.
The only possible criticism I have is that I thought the way the "shapeshifter" was killed (I won't reveal who it is, of course) was done so quickly it was almost a little anti-climactic. I also wished we learned more about his history, because he was an intriguing villian.
I don't think I would have picked this book up on my own, if not for the fact that we needed to read a recent Spur award winner for my Readers' Advisory class. I'm glad I chose this book for and I will be reading more of Hillerman's books in the future.
I also love how I always seem to find books without meaning to where the characters talk about or have degrees in Anthropology. Having a BA in Anthro myself, I always enjoy reading about characters that have that commonality. (less)