A study in shifters – Majanka Verstraete


(I thank Netgalley and Monster House Books LLC for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)

I was quite excited to read this book: shifters, murders’ investigations, Sherlock Holmes’ legacy, a YA read, all these themes are just what I like. But alas if I appreciated the story, the narrative’s choices and flaws annoyed me so much that I decided to stop at the third of the book. As a matter of principle I always try to read a book so far before giving it up, but I don’t force me to finish it if I believe my opinion settled.

The story is interesting and intriguing and I liked the idea of a mysterious half humans half animals population – shifters – hidden in plain sight, with powerful auto-controled families. And if the half-blood status of the heroine wasn’t very original, I liked the edge it gave to her life. Her relation with her mother was interesting and well exposed, credible and touching.

Alas plenty of details grated on me and I couldn’t read on.

The narrator is permanently referring to her inner jaguar, nearly in each sentence, explaining how the invisible animal is reacting to the present situation. This narrative decision bogs down the story, and it got on my nerves till the very beginning.

There are shifters…everywhere in the story. Jaguars, snakes, horses, leopards, spiders, otters. Well theoretically. At the third of the book I still haven’t seen anyone in fur or scales, only very basic humans with generic personalities linked to their animal species. A bit boring and repetitive so far – but of course it may have been more riveting afterwards, I wouldn’t know.

Marisol is supposed to be as brilliant and socially akwark as her great great great grand-father, Sherlock Holmes. But alas it doesn’t show at all, and the repetitive affirmations didn’t convince me. For instance she sees or understands some things absolutely evident but that nobody in the story has seen or understood, which is absolutely unbelievable! In a way it likes telling us that someone is a maths genius by explaining that they can solve basic first degree equations is less than five minutes. Hum. Marisol’s exposure as a person with poor social skills is very awkward too, lot of telling, unconvincing showing. She seems to be a polite introvert, but never someone with Asperger syndrome (as implied).

All in all it’s a shame as the story had potential in my eyes, but in the end it wasn’t for me. But I’m now quite demanding with my reads, so I still recommend you this book if the themes intrigue you, and if you aren’t such a quibbler as I am!

ebook, 300 pages
Expected publication: June 26th 2018
by Monster House Books


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