Early Book Review: The Shapeshifter's Secret by Heather Ostler

The Shapeshifter's Secret by Heather Ostler is a young adult novels scheduled for release on June 12 2012. Julia thinks that she is a fairly normal teen. At sixteen her father is overprotective and her mother is not in the picture. However, lately when Julia gets upset she starts feeling a little out of control. When secrets start to come to light, Julia and her family go on the run. She learns that she is much more than she appears; but so is her father, favorite uncle, and the new boy from school. Everything Julia thought she new turns out to be a lie, and the truth is much more complicated than anyone could have imagined. Will Julia come to turns with her new reality, and will she survive discovering the whole truth?

The Shapeshifter's Secret takes a slightly new twist on the paranormal genre. Instead of a virus, viscous attacks, or mythology holding the root of people's special abilities the truth lies through a portal. Not unlike a faerie portal, the portal to the world of Ossia leads to world where people have evolved these abilities in order to survive. While the people have advances, and formed a solid civilization, they in the midst of a power struggle, with betrayal seemingly possible behind every door. When Julia enters this world, and is hustled off to a school for people originally from this world, she is faced with both the intrigue of her family situation and the perils of entering a boarding school well behind the other students. She is fortunate enough to have a friend from her old life as a roommate, and they become even closer. Along with all this, Julia needs to face the fact that her family is considered royalty, her mother just might be an evil overlord, and not everyone has her best interest at heart.

There was one thing that I just did not enjoy about The Shapeshifter's Secret. I felt like Julia's romance with the soldier Terrence was not well defined. It was rather half-hearted, and seemed like Julia just attached herself to him to anger Caleb while Terrence just might have motives that we have yet to see. The tension between Julia and Caleb is good, as is the tension between Julia and some of the other students. But I just did not feel the connection between Julia and Terrence. The action is steady, and I really liked the escalation of tension and action as the story works its way toward the conclusion. Even though the book is the start of a new series, and there is clearly more to come at the end, the story does give readers a satisfying conclusion while still leaving us eager for the next installment.

I recommend The Shapeshifter's Secret to teen and adult readers that still love paranormal fiction. There is a slightly different take on the paranormal, so even readers that have started to tire of the genre can find something redeeming in the story. Readers that really enjoy romance and the exploration of relationships might want to skip it, because while Julia's relationship with her roommate and father are well done her romantic interests are not well established.
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