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The Shape of Desire (A Shifting Circle Novel) Hardcover – April 3, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Shifting Circle Series

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Editorial Reviews


“Shinn has written an enthralling mystery with compelling, gritty characters.” —Library Journal

“A lyrical love story.”—Night Owl Reviews

“The tale…meanders like a stream, with strong characterizations and poetic prose polishing the story until it shines.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Sharon Shinn is a journalist who works for a trade magazine. Her first novel, The Shapechanger's Wife, was selected by  Locus as the best first fantasy novel of 1995. She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer, and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has lived in the Midwest most of her life.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Shifting Circle Novel
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937007170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937007171
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,743,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. T. French on April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've loved Sharon Shinn's writing for over a decade. I have to say that, so far, this is my least favorite book by her. Many of the elements were entirely out of character for her usual writing. It is almost as if her publisher called her up and said, "Sharon, we need to edge up your writing to keep up with this whole paranormal romance trend that is so hot. So, let's drop some f-bombs, throw in some erotic language, and maybe a few bestiality jokes. Sha-zam! Publishing gold!"
What Shinn excels at is showing us strong, independent characters (particularly female leads) and making us love them and love watching them fall in love. In "Desire" the female character is completely dependent, with an almost Bella-like obsession and willingness to abandon family and future for her dangerous beau. We don't see them fall in love, but we do see the long term consequences of a paranormal romance. In that aspect, the book was interesting in concept. Where do we go from here? Is there any future in this type of relationship? The redeeming quality of the book is the development of Maria and Dante's self-imposed isolation and complete couple-centeredness into a functional relationship that works together to help and bring in others. However, other reviewers are correct in that it takes too long to move the action of the book along. Shinn's take-it-for-granted otherworldliness is missing altogether, offering instead a jarring and false feeling "real world" setting. Readers who haven't "met" Shinn before and are pulled in by the paranormal romance aspect might enjoy the book (though they, too, might miss seeing how this strange relationship began), but my guess is that readers looking for more of Shinn's usual fare will be disappointed in this change.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sharon Shinn is my favorite author. If anyone has asked me who my favorite author is for the last fifteen years, I've responded without hesitation, that it was Sharon Shinn. I own every book that she has written or contributed to, and have a dedicated shelf for her work in my personal library. I always look forward to her new offerings in the fall.
It took me a while to bring myself to write this review, but I've got to say it... this book was terribly disappointing. I have a hard time even believing that Sharon wrote it. It was a total departure from her usual style and subject matter. I tried my best to get through it, but it was so slow and redundant that I couldn't even finish it.
Minor point, but it even had gratuitous sex scenes and foul language. I've often bragged that Sharon could create her incredible word pictures without this.
So sorry, Sharon... and I'll give you another chance, but this one just doesn't make the grade.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Shape of Desire" by Sharon Shinn is a lyrical love story about a shapeshifter named Dante Romano and the woman, Maria Devane, who is inextricably tied to him. Maria continues to work at her job as an accountant but she lives for the ever diminishing times out of the month that her lover can live with her as a human. She has accepted all of his tales about changing into various animals over the years for increasingly longer periods of time and has never questioned him or his strictures and has arranged her entire life to accommodate his unusual circumstances. Complications with her coworkers and frightening murders in her town start to alter her relationship with Dante and force her to examine her goals and ultimate desires. Her unswerving devotion to Dante is tested as she finally interacts with his family and discovers that there are even more secrets that she has been unaware of. Escalating tension forces Maria to take action that may ultimately betray the lover that she is striving to protect and changes the dynamics of her relationship with her coworkers. The question is whether she can regain the equanimity that she has treasured for so many years or is this the price she will pay for having a shapeshifter in her life?

This story was a bit of a departure from Ms. Shinn's intricate series as her characters seemed a bit underdeveloped and the secondary characters were relegated to very brief appearances. The premise is interesting but I found Maria to be too clingy and irritating, filled with angst but trying to hold it in to keep her relationship on an even keel. The interaction between the main characters seemed unhealthy and the pacing of the book was slow until the last third or so. There are beautiful passages with imaginative imagery but the story itself feels two-dimensional and the ending seemed to be disingenuous with little resolution of some of the dangling threads.

© Night Owl Reviews
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Format: Kindle Edition
As a huge fan of Shinn's Angel/Samaria books I was really looking forward to this new direction in her writing. Unfortunately, this book was nowhere near that quality. It took forever to get going- Dante shows up and Maria is delirious with love, Dante leaves and Maria is desolate, over and over again. This recycles for a big chunk of the book and for me was pretty repetitive. I also found it difficult to believe that Maria would be able to sustain such extremes of emotion for 15 years. I mean, wouldn't a sane person more or less get used to it? Overall, not a terrible book, but not what I was hoping for, and not worth paying the "new release" price.
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