The Shape of Desire (Early Review)

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn 
Shifting Circle #1

For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.

Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can't choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn't trade their unusual relationship for anything.
  
Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she's been telling about her life have turned into lies she's telling herself...

You can't choose who you love, and this holds true for Maria. She's been madly in love with Dante for the past fifteen years to the point where her whole world revolves around him. Trouble is that he is a shape changer and each month he changes into a different wild animal. He has no control when the shifts overtake him, and as time goes on he is spending less and less time in human form. Even so, Maria couldn't imagine her life any other way, and the sacrifices seem like nothing in comparison to her love. But when people start being mauled to death in nearby areas, whenever Dante is gone she begins to question whether or not he could be the culprit. She'll have to make some tough decisions as she realizes some hard truths about whether or not love really has no bounds.

One of the biggest things that made The Shape of Desire fresh and original was that the narrator was a plain and ordinary human. In so many paranormal novels, the narrator typically has some sort of paranormal ability or other such skills. Or even if they started out as normal, that quickly changes as they are sucked into the paranormal's world. So, in The Shape of Desire, it was really good to see the other side of things and how Maria coped with being left behind so much. While I think she allowed herself to be a little too much of doormat at times, she handled her lot in life remarkably well. I cannot imagine being in her position, having to be so careful to keep the secret, but also suffering so much in missing Dante when he is gone.

The mythology behind The Shape of Desire was simple in that there wasn't a plethora of supernatural creatures, yet  it was still completely interesting. That the whole shifting process was out of their control made it seem more of a curse rather than a superpower. I loved that they actually changed into a real animal rather than some sort of were-creature. In fact after they change back, there is a period of time where they almost struggle to remember their humanity as the wild seems to cling to them.

At first I was unsure of the pacing in The Shape of Desire, as I felt like I was waiting a very long time for something to happen. It felt like a cycle set on rinse and repeat. Dante would arrive making Maria incredibly happy, they would have a few days together and then he would take off again, leaving her crushed. To be honest, this became a little frustrating to me, until I took a step back and looked at what it was trying to show me. I realized that Maria's life is a perpetual state of waiting and the progression of the book made me really able to get into her head. I felt the highs and lows right along with her, and it made for a very enjoyable read, especially when you combine in all the other elements of the book. So, if you enjoy a book with great characters, mythology, and the more normal side of the paranormal then The Shape of Desire is one book you won't want to miss!

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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