Tough Travelling

“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!

Sealed With a CurseWere-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.

BittenWerewolves – 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.
Untitled-10Tanuki – 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!
On the EdgeChangelings – 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.



    • bookwraiths

    • 8 years ago

    Lots and lots of urban fantasy on this list as well. Have to admit, I’ve never read any of that genre — though I do have the first Dresden novel and the first Iron Druid story on my e-reader. Have to find some time to get to them.
    Great list by the way. 🙂

    1. Those are perfect urban fantasy series for you to start with! They’re both hilarious and very fun.

    • Tammy Sparks

    • 8 years ago

    I really need to read Discount Armageddon, I’ve read so many good things about Seanan McGuire. Cool list!

    1. Thanks Tammy! I’ve only read the one McGuire but it was EXCELLENT. The perfect “I need a good action scene and an even better laugh” kind of book.

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    • 8 years ago

    I’ve not read any of these, but will fess up to having watched Bitten 🙂 I’ve heard good things about Seanan McGuire

    1. Was it a movie or something?

        • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

        • 8 years ago

        A TV show from SyFy, I had some spare time and a Netflix account. Not the highest quality thing out there, lots of green screening. But hey, it is what it is. 🙂

        1. I admit that I’ve also watched it and enjoyed it…although it’s SO different from the books. I’ll still watch season two though. 😉

    2. Seanan McGuire is my new homegirl. Honestly though, I know you’re picky about humor in books so Discount Armageddon may not be for you. You’ll know whether it is or isn’t within about ten pages or so!

  1. YAS. Clay and Elena are two of my favorite werewolves, and I’m pretty sure you know how much I love Jack (and George). I forgot about InCryptid and the Weird Girls though–good call 😉

    1. Thanks, Jessica! I do my best. 😉 Elena and Clay really are the best, aren’t they? So much swoon.

  2. This is an easy week for people who read UF, but I confess I haven’t read any of these. But Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews and Seanan McGuire (though I’ve read her horror books under her name Mira Grant) are ALL on my list of authors to read 🙂

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. READ THEM SOON, LADY. You will love them. I’m planning to read the Mira Grant horror novels soon – Feed is sitting on my shelf just biding its time, waiting to scare the pants off me.

  3. Woohoo! I’m so glad to see that Bitten made your list! That should be # 1 on ALL shifter compilations IMO, but I’m biased… A few others that come to mind are The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater, Dani Harper’s Changelings, Kelly Meade’s loup-garous, and Molly Harper’s Naked Werewolves.

    1. Carmel, we are in complete agreement! I love Bitten (and all the Women of the Otherworld books). MOLLY HARPER! Can’t believe I forgot her. I definitely wanted to run away to Alaska after reading the first book. 😉

    • Charlotte

    • 8 years ago

    I thought this week’s topic was easy peasy but it wasn’t as I have just realized that I have read so little shapeshifting books over the years. But maybe it’s because of the fact that most PNR and UF are inundated with werewolves and I am keeping werewolf books at the minimum. For some reason, I am still traumatized with Twilight.

    I’m sorry though but all of these books are pretty new to me. But I think I am going to check Discount Armageddon. Those Cryptids are really interesting!

    1. You’ll be happy to hear that there are no werewolves in Discount Armageddon! There are a ton of really awesome cryptids. Seanan McGuire is insanely creative.

    • Lynn Williams

    • 8 years ago

    How did I miss your list! Anyway, I have read Bitten – it’s the only one on your list that I’ve read and in fact the only one by that author – I did mean to go and read more – did you continue with the series?
    Lynn 😀

    1. I’m actually a huge Kelley Armstrong fan, and I’ve read the whole Women of the Otherworld series. Bitten is book 1 and there are 13 books in total. A lot of people think that Bitten is one of the best books in the series, but I loved the whole thing! Armstrong switches up the narrators from time to time which keeps things fresh. I’d definitely recommend it!

    • Rabindranauth

    • 8 years ago

    I really need to read Seanan McGuire sometime. I read a short story of hers a few weeks ago and was decently impressed. Her books strike me at first glance as solidly urban/PNR stuff, though, which makes it pretty far out there for me >_>

    1. Hmmm. I’ve heard that Sparrow Hill (set in the same InCryptid universe as Discount Armageddon) has a darker tone than your average UF/PNR. You might try that!

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