The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I've been struggling with how to rate this one. Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite fantasy writers. And yet...meh. This one didn't do it for me. Too much angst. I kept forgetting the main character was supposed to be in her thirties. She behaved much of the time like she was 19--come to think of it, she reminded me of Bella from Twilight. I didn't exactly dislike her; I just wished she'd grow a spine and not waste so much of her time moping over her boyfriend. And there didn't seem to be a solid foundation for a 15-year-long relationship, which is unusual for a Sharon Shinn novel.
I thought the premise of the story had potential: the difficulties of being in love with a shapeshifter who was increasingly not in human form. How do you balance your life to hide his secret? But why did Maria feel compelled to make up SO many lies? She lied to practically everyone about practically everything, and for no really good reason. I never understood why she couldn't just tell people she had a boyfriend named Dante who traveled a lot? Why did she try to hide his existence? When she did need to lie to protect him, why didn't she stick to as much of the truth as she could? That would have made her life--and everyone else's--so much better and less complicated. Instead, she lied constantly, even to Dante eventually. It's not a recipe for healthy, successful relationships, and it's utterly unnecessary. I can understand being apprehensive about broaching a difficult topic with your partner, but if after 15 years together you can't trust him enough to be sure he didn't murder people in parks, then maybe you should not be sleeping with him like a rabid, horny teenager!
I had such a hard time getting through this. It did eventually get a little exciting toward the end. If it hadn't been written by Shinn, I'd have given up and quit reading it after the first couple of chapters, though.
*sigh* OK, Ms. Shinn, enough with the contemporary paranormal stuff. Please go back to writing another Twelve Houses novel or something!
For readers' advisors: tons of swearing and sex. I'm struggling with appeal doorways because the book wasn't very appealing to me, but technically I'd say the doorways are character and story.
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