Thursday, May 24, 2018

Turnskin


Nicole Kimberling
Completed 5/24/2018, Reviewed 5/24/2018
4 stars

This was a really fun little book about shapeshifters, as in creatures who can change their appearance at will.  It brings them into contemporary society as a subculture, complete with a ghetto and prejudice against them.  Mix that with a gay love interest, mobsters, a murder, and the theater, and you get a book that’s deep at times, but mostly simply entertaining.  It won the Lambda Literary Award for SF/Fantasy/Horror and was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Award in 2009. 


The story concerns Tom Fletcher, a shifter living in farm country.  Besides being an onion field hand, he’s an aspiring playwright with dreams of making it in the big city.  Then he falls for Cloud Coldmoon, a shifter gangster posing as a local cop.  When the real local cop turns up dead, Tom is a prime suspect.  He flees to the city to stay with cousins who own the Turnskin Theater.  There he can hide out while maybe getting one of his plays produced.  But can he stay hidden from the police and gangsters for long?

I really liked Tom.  He was na├»ve and in love, and that gets him into lots of trouble.  Of course, his naivete makes him endearing.  He’s also an actor with a gift for shifting very quickly.  That’s how he was able to put on his plays in the little Podunk town he’s originally from.  Now he can use that skill as an actor at the Turnskin.  Tom’s cousins are great too, though a little one dimensional.  But one cousin, Righteous, is a hoot as the uber-politically correct voice of the shifter community. 

Despite winning the Lammy, the book really isn’t great literature, but it’s a lot of fun.  I found it to be quite the page turner.  I would have probably finished this book in two days instead of four if I could just have kept from falling asleep on the couch after work.  That says nothing about the pacing of the book, which I thought was very good, keeping the excitement level high.  It just has a lot to say about me turning into my grandmother who couldn’t stay up much past eight o’clock most nights. 

I give the book four stars out of five.  If I was judging by literary standards alone, I’d give it three or three and a half stars.  But it was just so darned fun, which is why I bumped it up to four stars.  I recommend this book in that it has the wherewithal to make you think about varying levels of prejudice in society but is also a quick reading, fun romance.

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