“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!
This week the trope is SHAPESHIFTERS:
SHAPESHIFTING is frequent among both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The usual form taken is that of a WOLF, but lions, eagles, serpents, owls, and cats are common too. In all cases the rule is that the shapeshifter cannon stay too long in animal form without actually becoming that animal.
Now if there’s one thing I know about it’s shapeshifters. My initial list was like 20 books long, but in the interests of symmetry aka my OCD tendencies I’ll keep it to my regular 4. I tried to pick titles that I didn’t think anyone else would have. Let the fun begin!
|Were-tiger – Sealed With a Curse by Cecy Robson
Celia Wird (pronounced “weird,” just go with it) is a shapeshifter whose primary form is a tiger. But unlike many traditional shifter types, Celia can transform into any animal she touches. This doesn’t always work out well for her though: when she’s frightened or angry she loses control of her abilities and often shifts into inappropriate animals – like a bunny. But her instincts are driven by her inner tigress, representing the more aggressive side of this usually passive heroine.
|Werewolves – Bitten by Kelley Amrstrong
Two of my favourite things: Kelley Armstrong and werewolves! Elena Michaels is the only known female werewolf, a member of the Pack that rules the New York territory. Surrogate daughter of Jeremy, alpha of the pack, and exceptional tracker and hunter, Elena is highly desirable to other werewolves. But Clay, Elena’s former lover, will stop at nothing to protect her from outsiders and defend their pack. One of the best werewolf romances of all time, in my opinion.
|Tanuki – Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Cyrptids are the monsters or categorically “other” creatures that roam around this dimension. They are many and quite varied, but there are a fair number who can assume a human form. Ryan is one such creature, a member of the cyrptid species called Tanuki. Tanuki originated in Japan and are classified as therianthropes (shapeshifters). They have three primary forms: human, a Japanese racoon dog, and to quote McGuire the third is “eight to ten feet tall and looks like something out of a Hammer film.” This last form is their combat shape. They’re actually super nice and very social – just don’t poke the racoon dog!
|Changelings – On the Edge by Ilona Andrews
What would a shapeshifter list be without Ilona Andrews? I thought Kate Daniels would be too obvious so I went with her Edge series. On the Edge introduces us to Rose and her little brothers, George and Jack; their family lives in the liminal space between magical and non-magical lands, called the Weird, where shapeshifting is not uncommon. Jack is a changeling who takes on the shape of a wildcat. At birth he was a kitten, and it took him three whole days to finally assume his human shape. Much of the little boy’s life is influenced by his animal instincts: Jack loves to run, and hunt, and chase small prey like leech birds and other odd creatures found in the Weird.