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Fantasy Discussions > Turnskin by Nicole Kimberling

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Emilie (neyronrose) | 449 comments In Turnskin's fantasy world, there are two "races," "Shifters," who have fur and are shapeshifters, and "Skins," who have bare skin and can't change form. The Shifters can shed their fur and impersonate Skins, or they can impersonate other Shifters. Tom is a Shifter who wants to leave the rural area he lives in and go to the big city.

I don't want to spoil things, so I'll just say that Tom manages to get himself in all kinds of trouble. I wasn't sure if it was going to be a fantasy novel or a romance. Much of the time it seemed to me to be a fantasy with romance in it.

Ulysses Dietz | 1554 comments Emilie - glad you liked this...I just finished it and loved it. Here's my review from Amazon and Goodreads:
Clearly, urban fantasy, especially involving extra-normal characters, isn't for everybody. But if you are this way inclined, Nicole Kimberling is a treat indeed.

We see the narrative unroll through the eyes of Tom Fletcher, a farm boy, orphaned as a teenager, living in a trailer and picking vegetables to earn his keep. But he dreams of being a playwright, and is something of a local character because of the plays he puts on in the trailer park - in which he plays all the roles. He can do this, of course, because he is a Shifter.

Ah, yes.

This is a very different otherworld from Kimberling's "Sea of Stars" two-part series; but it is similar. We are in a society that feels very much like our own, with all the appurtenances of modern life as we know it. But this world is populated by two races: Skins and Shifters. Interestingly, color is not relevant - the Skins are every shade of human color as we would imagine it, and it seems that no barrier exists based on skintone. But then there are the Shifters. They, too, are human, and they, too, come in many colors; but they are covered in short, fine fur (I see soft catlike fur, not simian). Oh, and they can change form; they can take on the physical characteristics of anyone they see. They are also clearly treated as second-class citizens, are more likely to be poor, and their use of their abilities is highly controlled - impersonating a skin is illegal.

And there you go. Tom heads to Riverside, the big, grand, rich, cultured metropolis with its own Shifter ghetto - it feels more like Chicago than anyplace else, in my mind, but really resembles nothing we know. Encouraged by his mysterious Shifter boyfriend, Cloud Coldmoon, he sets his sights on becoming an actor and playwright. He seeks out unknown cousins in the big city and begins to find his way.

But things are complicated when you're a gay shifter in a culture that looks askance at who you are just because you happen to have fur. Tom, who's been on his own since he was very young, has to learn some difficult lessons about love, loyalty, and courage.

If it's your kind of book, it's a wonderful story that pulls you out of your world and opens your eyes to the possibilities of a vivid imagination.

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