Shinn, Sharon. The Shape-Changer's Wife. Originally, I wanted to save this for the Fairy Tale/Fantasy Challenge, but I couldn't wait. Discovering a new author to love is always a joy, and Shinn has me hooked.
Aubrey is a young, good-natured magician who wants to learn more than his mentor Cyril is willing to teach him. Reluctant to teach Aubrey about shape-changing, Cyril finally decides to send him to apprentice to another magician, Glyrenden. Cyril warns Aubrey that he is always to be on his guard with Glyrenden: "Learn everything he teaches you so well you can cast his own spells back at him," the old wizard warns. Aubrey smiles and asks, "Why do you send me to him, if he is so menacing?" To which Cyril replies, "It would not do you much harm to face a challenge at this point in your career."
And so Aubrey sets off to his apprenticeship, neither discounting Cyril's warning, nor taking it too seriously. What he finds at Glyrenden's is a very strange household--a most unusual wife and most unusual servants.
This is one of those books that gets better and better as you read; Shinn has created a fresh and delightful fantasy that contains magic and more. I was delighted with the book and can see why it was selected by Locus as Best First Fantasy Novel of the Year in 1995.
While the book is quite short, it is rich and dense. The novel begins simply and rather lightly, but on arriving in Glyrenden's village, both the novel and Aubrey's character begin a transformation worthy of a shape-shifter.
Fiction. Fantasy. 1995. 215 pages.