Review: The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

Posted July 12, 2012 by Carmel in / 1 Comment

The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

Title: The Shape of Desire
Series: Shifting Circle #1
Author: Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Ace Hardcover
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Published: April 3, 2012
ISBN #: 9781937007171 / 1937007170
Genre: Fantasy
My Copy: Penguin Canada
Rating:Paw RatingPaw RatingPaw RatingPaw Rating
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For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.

Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can’t choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn’t trade their unusual relationship for anything.

Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she’s been telling about her life have turned into lies she’s telling herself…

I was reminded a great deal of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Wolves of Mercy Falls‘ series while reading this book; albeit a more adult version. The nature of Shinn’s shifters is different in that they can change into multiple animals but the story has the same ticking time bomb feeling to it in that the characters are able to remain human for less and less time as they age. The plot of this novel follows a murder investigation type model and the love story has a real Romeo & Juliette tragedy type feel to it. The Shape of Desire is definitely not a happy-go-lucky read but Sharon Shinn does an excellent job of telling such a sad tale.

I enjoyed the sort of double-life Maria lives. She’s one type of person around her co-workers and family but another type around her shifter boyfriend, Dante. It was hard experiencing the roller coaster ride that is her life. I felt genuinely sorry for her. She’s balancing these two very different realities and trying her hardest so that they don’t find out about each other. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live that way. No one ever really knowing the “real” you. Shinn does a great job of describing her various moods and the process that Maria goes through every time Dante is forced to leave. Devane also compares her relationship to that of one of her coworkers who’s being abused by her husband. The overall effect was a very human Maria trapped in the middle of a paranormal world.

The murder investigation didn’t really become the center of the story until past the halfway mark. It did manage to add a bit of action to an otherwise lovey story line but the list of suspects was short which made the culprit rather predictable. I’m okay with that because I honestly loved the romance more than the action in The Shape of Desire. It’s just such a moving, tragic tale that it’s able to stand alone without the additional plot.

Both of the characters grow significantly between the start and finish of this novel. Maria comes out of her shell and learns that it’s okay to let people in. What a relief this must have been for her, to finally be able to talk about her 15 year long secret relationship with someone other than her boyfriend. Dante learns to accept himself as he is and as a result, he starts working with his animal side instead of against it. He used to always have an “I can’t” attitude but recent events have helped him turn it into an “I can” one. It took nearly two decades but I think Maria and Dante’s relationship is finally in a good place.

This is my first Sharon Shinn book and I must say, I was impressed. She kept the paranormal aspects simple and her writing voice is beautiful. The Shape of Desire is a moving story about making it work and not giving up on the one you love.

Books in this series:
The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

Still Life with Shapeshifter by Sharon Shinn
Nov 2012

Recommendation: Ideal for hopeless romantics who love flowery writing and a good love story.
Like this, like that: The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater and the Danann Frost series by Joanne Valiukas.

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About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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One response to “Review: The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

  1. Great review. 🙂
    I have not read anything by Sharon, but this sounds like a good starting point. Thank you for the recommendation and sharing your thoughts, Carmel.