Probably one of my favorite paranormal classifications is shape shifter, influenced greatly by my love of animals. I have had dogs and cats all my life and often I have felt that I understand animals so much better than humans. In simplest terms, you can depend on animals not to hurt you and they are not motivated by hatred or selfishness. They love unconditionally and we all hope that when we find that love of our life he/she will be similarly devoted. To me, a good shifter series combines our love for our alpha human male and lets us hug on big shaggy beasts. What’s not to love?
What makes a shape shifter series good?
First off this is my preference and your mileage may vary. There are many origins of a shape shifter, whether he has been “turned” or if they are originally a separate species. Shifters usually have a longer life cycle and have paranormal skills/strengths. We also will usually see the one “mate” in which they seek all their life. The downside is that this genre has grown so much with often a bunch of crap. People have seen the demand for a good shifter and they just jump into the pool, without any added value. We might see the cover with the 10 werewolves with the deep meaningful relationship and should consider that a classic, remember? So somehow, I have to come up with something that is a criterion to distinguish the difference between gold and straight up crap. What is my litmus test of whether the shifter series is good?
I consider how they handle taking off their clothes when they shift.
I absolutely hate the “magic” aspect, where the author just uses this excuse as the reason why the jewelry or the clothing magically disappears. I somehow have to accept that any bad plot device can be answered with “magic” (I always think of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean saying “Pirate” when I use “”). It seems so lazy in writing to just say, “magic”. However, some authors do bring in magic, but in a more “realistic” manner. For example, Lauren Dane incorporates magic into on wedding rings, but she doesn’t use the excuse for all clothing. Others like Lucy Monroe, Terry Spear, Christine Feehan, and Marjorie M. Liu use reality to base their shifting and that is something that I can get behind. These shifters don’t wear wedding bands; always wear clothing that can easily be taken off in a pinch. Also face it; we get to see their abs a lot.
Children of the Moon by Lucy Monroe is my favorite shifter series based in a historical setting. This series is somewhat young (only three books written), so the world will continue to expand. I am basing this landing page on information as of book 3, Moon Burning.
The basic world
This series is based on the Highlands of Scotland with the werewolves being the Picts. Ms. Monroe does an excellent job of taking historical lore and morphing it into werewolf lore to include King Alphin and the Picts, reinterpreting history in the form of shifter lore. If we accept that of King Kenneth Mac Alphin declared himself King of the Picts in 843, then this series is based sometime after that. Book 2 mentions King David of Scotland, which puts the time as about 1124 – 1153. From the Prologue from Moon Awakening:
Their Roman enemies called them Picts, a name accepted by the other peoples of their land and lands south…They called themselves the Chrechte
This separate species themselves Chrechte and while they are a separate culture they align with the Scottish King and their differences remain hidden to humans. To marry a human means to water the bloodline and that is not acceptable. The series is open, there is room to expand to other animals other than wolves and I have a feeling we might not be contained to just Scotland. We will have to see what Ms. Monroe has in mind for us. I do recommend starting with book 1 and reading them in order.
The Books: These should be read in order
- Moon Awakening (2007) Main Characters: Lachlan Balmoral and Emily Hamilton
- Moon Craving (2010) Main Characters: Talorc Sinclair and Abigail Hamilton
- Moon Burning (2011) Main Characters: Barr and Sabrine