January 14, 2019
Title: Shifted (Siren Prophecy Book 1)
Series: Shifter Academy
Author: Tricia Barr, Joanna Reeder, Angel Leya, Jesse Booth, Alessandra Jay
Designation: Book 1 of Series, Full-Length Novel, NOT A Standalone, Cliffhanger Ahead #urbanfantasy #paranormal #supernatural #mystery #suspense #action #sweetcomingofageromance #shifters #mermaids #teen #youngadult
My Rating: Four Captivating Stars****
I may be almost 70 years young, but I still occasionally enjoy reading young adult fantasy and always on the lookout for new, imaginative stories. I saw a promotion for this series in one of my newsletters and decided to check it out. The artwork for the cover was gorgeous and immediately caught my eye, but the real gotcha moment came when I read the blurb. I was immediately intrigued and decided to give it a whirl. I'll admit this was my first time reading the work of Tricia Barr or any of the authors listed as contributors for this book and had no idea what to expect - but best decision ever! There were so many things I adored about this book. The concept was intriguing, the world building was extraordinary, the storyline was creative, the characters were engaging, the writing was solid, the dialogue was well executed and flowed naturally, and the book, overall, was well crafted. I was impressed by the detailed world-building and vivid descriptions, which quickly immersed me in the story. The third person narrative was well written with multiple perspectives, and there were quite a few. It wasn't a traditional omniscient with an all-knowing, 'god-like' narrator who knows and narrates the thoughts of every character, but it still included the point of view for many of the primary characters, and all were clearly defined by chapter. This variation helps to avoid confusion for the reader and makes it so much easier to keep up with who is thinking what. There were a few minor typos and mistakes missed in the final edit/proofread but nothing major and certainly nothing that distracted me from the story. Although I loved Shifted, I was torn about the rating, thus the four stars rather than five. In my humble opinion, the book did have a few areas that needed work. I felt the pacing was off, what I call unbalanced, sluggish in some places and too fast in others, adversely affecting the overall flow of the story. The beginning and first few chapters were good, but soon after the plot progression slowed to a crawl. Admittedly, this is fairly common in the first book of a new series where an author is trying to set up the world, plot, conflict, characters and their dynamic within the story. And if not done skillfully, trying to absorb so many details and necessary information can feel tedious and sometimes boring for a reader. The story does have several adult characters but primarily features teenage heroes and heroines, so I feel safe in assuming it was written primarily for teenage/young adult audiences. But if an author isn't careful, they can quickly lose the attention of readers, especially adolescents with boundless energy accustomed to technology and instant gratification. Thankfully, the pace picked back up in the final 30% of the book but moved at lightspeed in the final 5%. There was a lot of information thrown at the reader in the last few chapters, which unfortunately made the ending feel rushed. I was also a little disappointed in the growth of several of the primary characters. I understand this is a teen/young adult book, but I still felt the characters were somewhat immature for their age. I constantly hear people say how kids are so much more mature now than they were years ago, but I disagree. In my grandmother's day, it was not unusual for a man and woman to be married with children by fifteen or sixteen, the same age as many of the characters in this story. Possibly a more accurate statement would be that kids now are more worldly, more educated, and certainly have access to more information, but that doesn't necessarily make them more mature. Nonetheless, I still felt that several of the primary teenage characters lacked depth and maturity for their age and needed more character development within the first book. Hopefully, we'll see more personal growth as the series continues. Most stories are either plot driven or character driven but surprisingly, Shifted appeared to be both with an extremely large, diverse cast of players and an extremely intricate and complex plot, and each element seemed integral to the progression of the story. It reminded me of a chess game with a board of constantly moving pieces, all trying to protect the queen, but one wrong move could result in the loss of everything. Some of the main characters may have been teenagers, but their age made little difference in this fight between good and evil. With the future of Shifter Academy at stake, as well as the fate of the entire world, both human and supernatural, a brave few must face their fears, accept their destinies, and if they want to survive, learn to work together to untangle a convoluted web of secrets and defeat true evil. In Shifted, there were three couples: 1)newly discovered teenage mermaid shifter Myreen Fairchild and handsome, young, dragon shifter royal Kol Dracul, 2) struggling new phoenix shifter Juliet Quinn and phoenix shifter Nik Candida, 3)spirited teenage selkie Kenzie MacLugh who has a mysterious connection with long-suffering, much older vampire Leif Villers. Sixteen-year-old Myreen Lee Fairchild appears to be the central character of Shifted and plays an important role in the Siren Prophecy. Myreen was sweet, sensitive, and somewhat naive. She had no idea she was a mermaid shifter until the night her mother was suddenly murdered by vampires and then rescued by Oberon Rex, gryphon shifter and Director of Shifter Academy or 'The Dome', a school and safe haven for shifter children. For the first sixteen years of her life, Myreen led an extremely sheltered existence with very strict rules. She had no idea who her father was and had no family, other than her now deceased mom. She and her mother were always moving from place to place, never putting down roots. Myreen was never allowed to date, have any access to social media, and never ever allowed to go swimming or out after sundown. Needless to say, the knowledge of magic, vampires, and shifters came as a total shock. She found herself suddenly plunged into a strange new world of mythical creatures, unknown foes and, even worse, mean girls who wished her ill will. But never fear, the lovely, sweet Myreen made several faithful friends, ones willing to risk everything, including their lives, on her dangerous journey of discovery. Her first friend at Shifter Academy was teenage, royal dragon shifter Malkolm Torq Dracul, Kol to his friends, who also turns out to be one of her love interests in the story. And yes, I said interests, as in more than one. It appears two young men have the hots for the lovely dark-haired, blue-eyed Myreen. Accomplished mermaid shifter and seer Kendall Green showed an immediate interest in Myreen upon her arrival at Shifter Academy, much to Kol's dismay. lol... Kol could be a real neanderthal and I didn't like him, at all, until the last few chapters of the book. Sure he was hot, all alpha, and drop-dead gorgeous, but he was also aloof, entitled, conceited, at times indifferent, and not very friendly. Most of the time, I wanted to box his ears. However, he did have a few redeeming qualities. But it was so much fun watching Myreen put him in his place! You better believe Myreen was no one's doormat! lol... Poor Kol! There were a few times I felt kinda sorry for him. He tried so hard to fight his attraction for Myreen and for good reason - which I won't disclose. You'll just have to read the book! But we all know the heart wants what the heart wants. And Kol's heart definitely wanted Myreen! Sigh... So sweet! No spoilers from me but I will say this... A beautiful teenage girl, reeling from a heartbreaking loss, plunged into a dangerous world of vampires, shifters, and magic, only to discover she is so much more than she ever dreamed-check! A handsome teenage dragon shifter torn between duty and the possibility of love-check! A large cast of fascinating characters-check! A mysterious prophecy-check! A clique of mean girls out for blood-check! Mystery, suspense, danger, malevolent machinations, and heinous enemies-check! Drama, teenage angst, and sweet blossoming romance-you bet! That and a whole lot more!
So, did I like this book? Yes, very much! Will I read this author/authors again? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, I raced back to purchase Scorched, the second book of the Siren Prophecy. Would I recommend it? You bet, and I am for readers 12 to 112. It contains no explicit sex but does feature a sweet, blossoming romance between teenagers. I think there was one mild curse word but no frequent profanity. It does contain several scenes of graphic violence but they have been diluted for a younger audience. If you're a Bella Forrest fan, you'll most likely enjoy this book. This is a full-length novel, coming in at approximately 450 pages, but is NOT a standalone read and does end with a cliffhanger. And finally, was I entertained? Completely! I definitely got my money's worth! Fabulous entertainment and an awesome read! I can hardly wait for Book 2!