Shifters is a paranormal romance series by American author Rachel Vincent. The 6-books series is, you guessed it, about people who can shape shift into animals. However, this time they are not werewolves but … Werecats! One important thing: apparently there are only a few female Werecats (or tabbies) because they mostly breed males (also called toms). So our female character Faythe is one of these few female Werecats so obviously her family (or Pride) wants to protect her – but she rebels against this constantly throughout the 6 books of the series:
- Stray (618 pages, published in June 2007)
- Rogue (394 pages, published in April 2008)
- Pride (425 pages, published in February 2009)
- Prey (386 pages, published in July 2009)
- Shift (441 pages, published in February 2010)
- Alpha (472 pages, published in October 2010)
I find it hard to say whether I like these books or not. I like the idea of it, because I have to admit I got a little tired of reading about werewolves. So I like the fact that they are werecats. But then there were a whole lot of things that just seemed bizarre. There are very few female werecats (for some reason that is never explained) and they have absolutely nothing to say in this male-dominated world. But at the same time, the role of Alpha is only passed down through the female cats, so if you want to become Alpha you need to marry a female cat. How does that make any sense?
Also, I was soooooo frustrated by Faythe. In the beginning I kind of understood: she was being suffocated at home, coddled like a dainty little girl and never allowed to do anything. So she negotiated with her father (who is Alpha of their Pride) to be allowed to go to university by herself (not so secretly watched over and guarded by members of her Pride at all times). In doing so, she also left her boyfriend Marc behind, who she loved so much and he loves her too – but she wasn’t ready for the commitment. But then throughout the rest of the first book and the next books, it become clear that what she was running from wasn’t all that bad. Marc loves her to death and wants only her, but she rejected him. She wants to be normal, like a human, but she isn’t human and she never will be. Period. She has a very hard time accepting this. It takes losing her brother, her father and almost her lover to realise that maybe she needs to grow up and do what is best, not for her but for her family and her Pride. Besides, she ends up with her family, leading the Pride, with the man of her dreams by her side. Not such a bad deal, right?
Anyway, that is not all. Faythe is at times just so dumb. There is someone out there kidnapping, torturing, raping and killing female cats? Well, I don’t care, I just want to go live on my own, please let me go daddy. That is basically what is going on and Faythe is constantly putting herself in (mortal) danger. So she ends up getting kidnapped, beaten to within an inch of her life and almost raped. Not once, but several times. Because she just so desperately wants to be human. She is so frustratingly “independent” that she puts not only herself but those that care for her in constant danger. And still she keeps on denying that anything is wrong, and insisting that she can make it on her own – even when it’s consistently being proven otherwise.
And then I’m not even talking about the boys. So there is Marc, the love of her life who would do anything for her but she rejected him in her search for “normalcy”. Then at university, she has a few flings and boyfriends, and one more serious one who she is with in the beginning of the first book. All the while, Marc has stayed faithful to her at home. So when she comes back home, she continues fighting her attraction to Marc, she kind of dumps the boyfriend over the phone, and she end up playing with fire. She flirts with another of her Pride’s toms, Jace. They always had a fun, flirty relationship, but now it has become more and she knows that Jace wants more from her. But that doesn’t stop her flitting between the two, driving both of them insane with jealousy and her indecisiveness. It isn’t until she loses Marc that she realises he is the one for her (so cliché). She is basically playing with these two’s feelings throughout the books.
The biggest problem for Faythe is that she can’t make a decision to save her life – quite literally at times. She wants to be free, yet she still loves her family, misses being a werecat in the pride and has no qualms being free on daddy’s dime. She wants Marc, but doesn’t want to commit so she goes to Jace. She doesn’t want to be Alpha but gets pissed when she is left out of the decision process. This goes on and on until eventually every decision gets made for her.
That being said, I did appreciate the books and liked reading them. I love the concept of the werecats, their sense of family and the way their world is built. There were moments when I sympathised with Faythe and liked her (though not very often, they were there). I also particularly loved the men in the books, especially Faythe’s brothers (well, except for one) and Marc and Jace. I was #TeamJace by the way – he’s the one I’d go for. Fun and carefree until it matters, and growing so much throughout the books until he’s ready to lead a Pride of his own, probably needing someone a little lighthearted to remind him of who he was before and bring out the softer, fun side in him. Yes, I have put a lot of thought into it, probably a little too much – but anything to not think about the frustrating Faythe.
One last note: the books are pretty violent. In the first books, there is someone going around torturing, raping and killing cats. Later there is a full-on war brewing between several of the Prides and more shapeshifters get involved in the battles. Faythe is also regularly beaten to a pulp, and most of the toms’ job consists of hunting down Strays (cats that don’t belong to a Pride) and punishing them if they step over the line. So readers discretion is advised.
What did you think? Love or hate? And if you happen to know other books/series about shapeshifters that are not werewolves – I’d be eternally grateful if you’d let me know in the comments!