Leeanna's Reviews > The Shapeshifter's Secret

The Shapeshifter's Secret by Heather Ostler
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's review
Jun 29, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: for-review, e-book
Read in June, 2012

I’m going to be blunt, because there’s no other way to say it: I did not like “The Shapeshifter’s Secret.”

When I first came across the book a few months ago, the cover caught my attention. I liked the animal markings on the girl’s face, and hoped they indicated an exciting story. I was excited to read a book about shapeshifters, as they’re not something I have read a lot of.

Julia is a normal teenager, one with an extremely overprotective father. But when she starts having rages that go beyond a teen’s normal angsty anger, she learns that her father has been hiding a huge secret. She’s a shapeshifter -- a white tiger werecat, to be precise -- and she is also royalty. In the middle of her father’s explanation, their house is attacked, and the boy that has been guarding her whisks her away to Ossai, a secret land of shapeshifters.

Once in Ossai, Julia attends a school … in a castle … with magic … with a gigantic library … with rumors of secret passages … sound familiar? Unfortunately, “The Shapeshifter’s Secret” has none of the charm of Harry Potter.

The writing is one of my biggest complaints. Honestly, I’ve read fanfiction with better editing, style, and developed characters (original characters). I was never able to connect with Julia, and I didn’t really like her, either. She did one immature, stupid thing after another, never learning from her mistakes or growing as a character. She hated that everyone was putting their lives on the line to guard her, yet she continually risked herself by keeping secrets and sneaking into forbidden places. After meeting a boy twice, she was in love with him. That felt far-fetched to me, even with her youth. I never fell in love at first sight when I was 16, so I tend to be skeptical when it happens in books.

I had problems with the pacing, too. The passage of time is hard to keep track of. It seemed like Julia was studying for winter exams in one chapter and then for spring exams in the next. The actions scenes were snoozefests -- I never felt a sense of urgency or danger for the characters. Lastly, there were some awkward word choices that pulled me out of the narrative, such as itinerary for a class schedule.

The reason I’m giving this two stars instead of one is because I did like the world the author created. It had promise. The tidbits of history and evolution of werecats were interesting, and I wish there had been more of those. However, even there I had problems. Julia’s best friend is a water nymph, yet we never find out how water nymphs fit into the world of Ossai.

The book does not end on a cliffhanger, although there is plenty of room for a sequel. I doubt I will read it, if there is a next book, as I just didn’t enjoy “The Shapeshifter’s Secret.”

Disclaimer: I received this book through NetGalley, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My review is also posted at my website, leeanna.me.

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