Reviewed by Megan Hutchins
I knew I had to read The Shifter when I heard about the magic. Healing powers with a dark side? That's not something I'd seen before. Janice Hardy didn't disappoint.
Poor Nya, the girl with the gift, ended up in one wrenching, no-good-solution problem after another. Nya's also our first-person narrator and her entertaining voice hooked me on the first page. Despite her war-orphan history, Nya's brimming with optimism -- sometimes too much of it as she devises reckless plans to save the thing that matters most: her sister.
The plot dives forward in this book, with boatloads of twists to keep the reader guessing, worrying, and turning pages. The setting is beautiful -- a tropical city spread over a lake -- but the author masterfully sneaks these descriptive tidbits and the history of the war in as we go.
For any reluctant young reader who doesn't like "the boring parts," they're in luck. This book doesn't have any. I'm still biting my nails for the last book of this trilogy, Darkfall, to come out. The second book, Blue Fire, exceeded expectation by both upping the stakes and pulling a cool twist on a magic I thought I'd figured out.
Thoroughly enjoyable reading for middle grade on up.
Market: Middle Grade Fiction
Mature Themes: War, death, inflicting pain, ends versus means.