Yune's Reviews > The Shape of Desire

The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn
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May 17, 12

bookshelves: urban-fantasy, werewolves

A lackluster read. I admit I was disappointed as soon as I heard that the latest work from Shinn had a contemporary setting with paranormal elements, but I picked it up anyway. Reading it confirmed my first thought, that while her style is fine in beautifully quiet fantasy stories with crescendoing emotions, it doesn't lend itself to this particular genre.

I felt distant from Maria from the first few pages, where she demands a kiss from a newly returned lover and makes it clear how obsessively in love she is with him. Romantic in another era, perhaps, but in a modern setting it struck me as an unhealthy relationship. Her shapeshifter boyfriend shows up for only a few days each month, and she structures her entire life around those few days. And he's a moody sort whose appeal I couldn't make out at all.

Shinn spends so much time constructing the mundane details of Maria's life -- she has a job, she has family, she has co-workers who provide their own drama -- that the rest of the book continued being unexceptionable even when it described the elements of shapeshifting. There was simply no delightful flair of the fantastical; it was just another problem that Maria dealt with. And enough of the details were deliberately left vague that I never felt a sense of menace from it either, even when suspense is supposed to gather. Possibly this was because I never really felt for any of the characters.

Even if you're a Shinn fan, I'd suggest passing.
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