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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Shape-Changer's Wife

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.


  1. Jenclair, your lovely review makes me want to throw over all the books I'm planning for the near future and read this one immediately.

  2. Sounds great! Donato Giancola, a recent Friday Favorite, has done some great cover art for some of Shinn's books.

  3. Cheya - I have another Shinn to read, but I'm saving it for Carl's challenge. I'm going to check the library for more of her novels before resorting to Amazon. :)

    Carl - I love your Friday Favorites, Carl. The art work is always fabulous.

  4. I don't typically read fantasy but this book sounds intriguing. I am still debating on whether I'll join Carl's upcoming challenge. It might be a good way for me to discover a new genre to explore.

  5. iliana - There is some excellent work in this field; I'm looking forward to the challenge. I don't know for sure how Carl will structure it, but I'm hoping it will also include myths.

  6. Sounds like a book I nned to add to the list, plus I'm going over to check out the Fantasy Challenge. I have quite a few of those to read. Just need a challenge to get me going.

  7. framed - I don't think Carl has posted specifics yet, but if you have some fantasy on your bookshelf hold on to them because we should know more soon.

  8. Hi, Jenclair

    The fantasy genre is not one that has interested me in the past, but I your wonderful review has tempted me to delve into this book!

  9. Lotus - Very short, but full of the stuff of fairy tales...which always have larger implications!