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The Shapeshifters Paperback – July 7, 2015
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"A fun, cunning crime thriller...If you enjoy the novels of Michael Koryta or Tana French's The Secret Place...you might eat up The Shapeshifters."
“A fantastic novel in every sense of the word…not only because Spjut has accomplished the masterstroke of writing convincingly about the existence of trolls and other mythical creatures in the Nordic forests, but also because all this unfolds in a language that captures the everyday reality we know so well, with such precision and exquisite style that the words seem to sparkle on the page.”
—Karl Ove Knausgård
“Spjut turns Scandinavian mythology upside down in a shades-of-gray world built for lovers of fantastical suspense.”
"This spooky novel is great for open-minded mystery/thriller readers who enjoy a bit of genre blending as well as fantasy fans."
From the Back Cover
—Karl Ove Knausgård
Summer 1978. A young boy disappears without a trace from a summer cabin. His mother claims he was carried away by a giant. He is never found.
Twenty-five years later, another child goes missing. This time there’s a lead, a single photograph taken by Susso Myrén. She’s devoted her life to the search for trolls, legendary giants known as stallo who can control human thoughts and assume animal form. Convinced that the trolls are real, she follows the trail of missing children to northern Sweden. But humans, some part stallo themselves, have been watching over the creatures for generations, and this hidden society of protectors won’t hesitate to close its deadly ranks.
Mixing folklore and history, suspense and the supernatural, The Shapeshifters is an extraordinary journey into a frozen land where myth bleeds into reality.
“Spjut turns Scandinavian mythology upside down in a shades-of-gray world built for lovers of fantastical suspense.” —Publishers Weekly
Stefan Spjut was raised on the rural islands of Mälaren. He served with the Lapland Ranger Regiment and studied art, literature, philosophy, and journalism at Stockholm University. He lives in Stockholm with his two children.
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The sentences do not line up from page to page. Initially, I thought this could have been just a piece of his writing style, but it's at the point now where the story isn't making sense. Every page reads as if I randomly opened the book, and I feel like I'm missing a few sentences inbetween.
I began reading this first at Barnes and noble, and then ordered it offline. I didn't get very far in-store, however I did not encounter this problem then. This all leads me to believe I've received a copy that was printed incorrectly. If I'm wrong and it is just a creative decision please let me know. I've been researching trying to find someone with the same problem, but I've yet to come across it.
Other than that, I would definitely recommend trying the book out. The writing is fresh and the fantasy is something I'd never heard of before. Im looking forward to figuring this problem out.
You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but when I saw the cover of this book in a Bergen, Norway bookshop, I wanted to find out what it was about. When I finally was able to get an English language version from the U.K., I was not disappointed. The motivation of some of the characters was not that clear, but overall I enjoyed this book.
Susso is an interesting character; she became intrigued with trolls when she was a young girl - her grandfather had supposedly photographed one, even though he was never able to prove the photo's authenticity. When Susso herself manages to photograph one, she feels responsible for unraveling the mystery, not only of the boy's disappearance, but of her grandfather's discovery. She has a website which catalogues the various troll sightings she has investigated, a website which eventually draws the attention of the very creatures she so longs to find. And Susso soon learns that the stallo have so woven themselves into the world around them - including the lives of the humans they have encountered - that it's impossible to separate them from the natural order of things. If SHAPESHIFTERS is a horror novel, it's one that draws its horror from within, rather than from some external menace.
Those looking for a fast-paced, action-centered story will be disappointed in SHAPESHIFTERS. Spjut's style is both lyrical and descriptive, but it is not typical of the horror genre. The POV shifts from that of Susso to her mother Gudrun (who narrates some of the chapters) to Seved, a young man who seems to know more than he's letting on about trolls and shapeshifters. And the horror builds very, very slowly as Susso gets closer and closer to the truth she seeks, and Seved grows more and more uncomfortable with his own role among the stallo. Are these creatures really evil, destructive beasts from a darker time, or are they just trying to live in a rapidly changing world?
I enjoyed reading SHAPESHIFTERS, but I have to admit it dragged in places. This is a very long novel, and the length has more to do with the sheer amount of detail and description Spjut uses than it does the actual plot. It was an effort to get through the first third of the novel, before I really understood what was going on. But once the story developed and the characters became more familiar to me, I was definitely intrigued and invested in what would ultimately happen. And I liked the ending, which is a big thing for me - too many novels seem to fall apart in the final act. Not so this one. The ending was believable and satisfying, without ever feeling pat or easy.
The best thing about SHAPESHIFTERS is the way Spjut manages to make his mythological creatures seem as real and natural as the rest of the world. These are magical beings - they do have mental and physical powers that are inexplicable - but their magic seems so much a part of the Swedish wilderness that I never quite saw them as magical. I've never read anything quite like this.
Overall, if you have the patience for a story that builds slowly and centers more on setting and atmosphere than it does on action, then SHAPESHIFTERS is definitely worth a read. I do recommend it.