The Shapeshifter's Secret by Heather Ostler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Arc provided by Cedar Fort via NetGalley
Goodreads Says: Julia is finally discovering what–not who–she is.
Like any sixteen-year-old, Julia's used to dealing with problems. From her overprotective father to her absent mother to a teacher who definitely has it in for her. But everything changes when Julia's reactions become oddly vicious and angry---more animal than human. This action-packed adventure has it all: humor, romance, and a plot that will keep you guessing to the very last page.
This might be a bit spoilerish. Please read with caution.
Julia is a 16 year old, living in New York with her overprotective strict father. All is great in Julia’s world until she begins to experience some changes. Turns out Julia is a Shapeshifter. To be more specific, a werecat.
I was instantly drawn to this read because of the beautiful cover. This is a beautiful cover! It spoke to me of youth, maturity, vulnerability, strength, magic, ancient yet very new. Yes, all of that. Well it stopped speaking to me along the way. Ok, maybe not completely but it wasn’t what I expected.
This story had a lot of promise, so much potential! It just fell short.
The world the author was trying to create was definitely interesting. I liked the different types of werepeople and the fact that there are other magical creatures like the water folk. I liked Julia’s best friend Sierra and Gabe who became her best friend along the way. I enjoyed getting to learn about how a shapeshifter shifts and what can happen if not done correctly. I had a few problems with this read. Ok, I had a lot of problems with this read.
1. Julia is kept in the dark about her shapeshifting abilities and her heritage for 16 years. This is fine. Dad finally tells her she’s a shapeshifter and few other details but why stop there? Why not tell her everything else that goes along with it? This is a major pet peeve of mine. I hate when only a few secrets are revealed. The person is kept in the dark and won’t make a stink about knowing it all at once only to be told later on when something bad has happened and it’s too late.
2. Julia had the potential of being a strong heroine. There were times where her presence in the books eluded to being a great warrior or leader… something of that nature. That never stuck. Instead she was often given an immature voice.
3. Terrence is Julia’s love interest. In fact after only meeting him twice they become a couple. The relationship didn’t feel organic not even for instalove standards and I felt suspicious.
4. Speaking of suspicious. I felt suspicious of absolutely EVERYONE. I didn’t feel comfortable at all with any of the characters. Not her best friend, her father’s closest friends and confidants… NO ONE. I kept thinking that at any moment one of these people would turn on Julia. I think the author could have done a better job at making some of these people more trustworthy.
5. Julia is given a truth ring by Caleb for Christmas. It is a huge diamond which is supposed to glow a different color to warn Julia if someone is telling a lie. Julia, one, doesn’t ever wear it and two, we never read about the ring again.
6. Speaking of Caleb… Caleb is someone. Caleb is possibly important to the story. Possibly. We never get to find out. His part in the book is so cryptic and the way he reacts to certain events always left me frustrated. He had hissy fits. For no apparent reason! Palmface… I did this a lot.
7. We are to believe that Julia doesn’t think things through and just plunges ahead no matter the consequences. This is possibly true but the reader is not given substantial evidence of such a thing. For example sneaking out of your room/house because of her overprotective dad prior to her knowledge of being a target didn’t scream compulsive behavior. The Ballroom incident didn’t scream it either. It was an incident. They just seemed isolated.
8. There were instances where the characters acted as if they didn’t have prior knowledge of certain information. Example: Terrance knew Julia didn’t know anything about their world for 16 years at the beginning of the book. Why does he act like the fact she didn’t know their traditional dances was brand new information towards the end of the book?
9. The big villain/traitor was not so obvious. However, moments before we get the big reveal the author chooses to have Julia ramble some stuff that gives the villain away when in reality she hadn’t pieced things together to know that the villain was the villain making the villain reveal anti-climactic. (Wordy, I know.)
10. By the end of the book there are too many incomplete threads. Much of the storytelling felt rushed as if the author wanted to include everything creating interesting moments or facts but never explained thoroughly so that it could all come together seamlessly.
11. Finally the biggest problem I had with the book is that it screamed Harry Potter. A lot!
There are so many similarities it was hard to ignore.
In spite of all that bothered me about the book, I still enjoyed its possibility and still want to read the next book. This can be a real gem if the author executes the next one a bit better. The possibilities are there to create a very unique story.