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A Vivid, Accessible Animal-Based Fantasy World

Skinshifter (Sylvan Cycle Book 1) - Alycia Christine

Skinshifter is Book One of the Sylvan Cycle series, and explores a magical metamorphosis centered around the re-emergence of previously-defeated Asheken deadwalkers who return to power with vengeance in mind seeking to not just vanquish the enemy who once conquered them, but to enslave them.

Thus werecat Katja faces the sudden destruction of her clan and an effort that represents a struggle against everything she knows in her world - including her well-kept secret of being a 'skinshifter'. Katja has lived with her siblings since their parents died, so she's known no other life and no other home. All this changes as she's thrust into the world with no family support systems, forced to personally refute the notion that skinshifters in her world are a curse. Ironically, her abilities are one thing that may save the world.

Fantasy readers will need to cultivate several things to appreciate this book's focus and direction: an affinity for third-person, limited point-of-view storytelling and an ability to accept an intelligent animal's world, replete with werewolves, humans, mages, elves, and more. The fantasy is well drawn and those familiar with genre reads will have no trouble readily accepting and absorbing a scenario in which dream premonitions and friendships between trolls and intelligent animals (among other encounters) are not just possible, but common.

Action is well done, tension is wonderfully detailed and maintained throughout, and fantasy readers will find in Katja an appealing, believable character whose quest and concerns drive a story line that is vivid, accessible, and involving; making it a special recommendation for readers of animal-based fantasy worlds where anything is possible.