Thursday, November 21, 2013

Otherkin by Nina Berry - 4.5 stars

4 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The only reason I didn't give it five is because I have some issues with certain scenes. It took me a couple tries to get into this book but once I did I found myself enjoying it and finished it quickly. 

In this book we have Desdemona, aka Dez, who is an otherkin. She's a shifter and can shift into a tiger. This is quite obvious once you look at the cover. We get thrown into the world almost immediately. At the end of chapter 1 Dez transforms into her tiger. In chapter 2 she wakes up in a cage somewhere in the desert. In a cage next to her we meet Caleb. Caleb is otherkin also but he is not a shifter. He is a caller of shadow. Basically there is another world called the Othersphere and it "casts its shadow into our world. Not a shadow of darkness, but a power shadow, a vibration" (33). Callers can actually call forth the shadow of the shifters or send them away, forcing them into or out of their animal form. This makes the shifters hate the callers because they can control their transformations. 

The enemy of the otherkin is the Tribunal. They think all otherkin are demons and are extremely religious. They can use shadow too but they use it to get rid of shadow. The callers that are part of the Tribunal are titled objurers. Basically they're a bunch of hypocrites. The Tribunal has killed thousands of shifters and callers. Now there are only five shifter tribes left. Bears, cats, birds, wolves, and rats. Before there were shifters of all different animals but they were killed off by the Tribunal. Of course, all the shifters hate each other and are neophobic. They formed a council with a representative for each tribe but that only does so much. There is little they can do when all they want to fight.

After Dez returns home and is attacked again by the Tribunal, she shifts back to her tiger-self and that's when her adoptive mother and Richard, her mother's husband, find out about Dez being a shifter. Her parents go into hiding while Dez heads off with Caleb to a super secret school somewhere hidden. Once there, they have to go through a test to prove that they are worthy to be taught at the school.

The school is for shifters, not callers, so Caleb is a little on the outside. The teacher, Morfael, is also a caller and teaches the shifters the everything the shifters need to know. Dez is an outsider at first and Caleb is unwelcome. The prejudice between the callers and the other shifters is extremely obvious. It's sad really.

There is something special about Dez and even at the end of the book we don't really know what's going on with her or what she truly is. But because she was never raised around other shifters, she does not have the prejudice that they all have. She is able to bring everyone together and become friends. This is something that never happens.

What I liked about this book is the completely different take on shapeshifters and the idea of another world that casts its shadows into ours. The idea is clever and one that I haven't heard of before. I enjoyed Dez's character and her strength in trying to get everyone to work together and not hate each other. She doesn't give up and she has a fierce need to protect the people she loves.

What I didn't like was some of the writing and reactions. Dez finds out about this other world and she's not as freaked out as I think she should be. If I had changed into a tiger and then kidnapped and shoved into a cage, I think I'd be freaking out more than she actually was. Sometimes the writing seemed rushed. Despite these issues I really enjoyed this book.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys shapeshifter books and want a different take on a fantasy world. The topic of shapeshifters has been used many times and I like that this book used it and changed it into something completely different than anything I was expecting.

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