Local author spotlights werecats in new book, 'The Shapeshifter's Secret'

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 9 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

"The Shapeshifter's Secret," by Heather Ostler, Sweetwater Books, $16.99, 318 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

Utah native and first-time author Heather Ostler has always had an affinity for big cats, so it seemed like the perfect fit when she decided to mold her “The Shapeshifter’s Secret” story around these creatures.

In Ostler’s tale, 16-year-old Julia Levesque is an average high school girl living with her overprotective father when her life begins to change. Her father’s smothering tendencies kick into overdrive at the same time that Julia begins to experience intense emotional outbursts she can’t explain. Julia feels like she is losing control of herself and is worried that she may be going crazy.

But as Caleb, a mysterious new boy in school, enters the picture, Julia begins to notice that he pops up whenever her life gets wild. An unexplained encounter with a panther in the park sparks questions that Julia has never considered before. With Caleb’s protection and odd guidance, Julia eventually discovers the truth about her hidden past and her ominous future.

As treacherous forces seek to destroy her, Julia must decide whether to trust the life she has always known or to take a leap of faith and plunge into an adventure she never dreamed of.

This dynamic young adult tale is woven around fantastical creatures like werecats and water nymphs and delves into unknown worlds through hidden portals and magical powers. Ostler threads her pages with powerful curses, vigorous sword fights, teenage angst, romantic encounters and conniving friends turned foes.

The story moves quickly and is adventure-packed. The main characters pull together and support each other, creating a web of almost family-like bonding that pulls the reader into the action.

The premise of this book is intriguing and very creative, but the phrasing and dialogue sometimes feel awkward or uncomfortable. Some of the characters seem underdeveloped and will hopefully be better understood in Ostler’s coming works.

However, the story is overall very entertaining and extremely fun. It is also incredibly clean, with no foul language or inappropriate sexuality.

If you go ...

What: "The Shapeshifter's Secret" launch party and Heather Ostler book signing

When: Thursday, June 14, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, www.heatherostler.com

Book review: 'The Shapeshifter's Secret' by Heather Ostler

Get a taste for "The Shapeshifter's Secret" in this video.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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