cover image The Turning Season

The Turning Season

Sharon Shinn. Ace, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-425-26169-9

Shinn's realistic third Shifting Circle romantic fantasy (after Still Life with Shapeshifter) is set in the present day but takes place far from the gritty urban settings familiar to paranormal fans. Young Karadel Baylor, a shapeshifter who lives on a small farm and sometimes takes the form of a marmalade cat or a powerful wolf, provides amateur veterinary care to needy or injured animals as well as an invaluable haven for fellow shapeshifters. She also experiments with drugs that she hopes will help shifters control their shifts into animal form. Karadel wants more than anything to remain human, especially after she meets compassionate trucker Joe McGinty, who makes her feel safe and comes to accept her unusual predicament. When Karadel's former lover Ryan commits a vicious murder, Karadel must confront a serious ethical dilemma. Her reflections as various animals generally appear convincing, but her conversations with those she trusts most are couched in crude language and often sound simplistic. The components of Shinn's fundamental message nevertheless emerge clearly: loyalty to friends, healing human-animal relationships, and simple kindness have the power to move mountains. (Nov.)