by Janice Hardy
I admit it. I picked this book because it's pretty - the cover grabbed my attention in the book store and I picked it up. Read the front flap, and was interested by the story. Book goes on Christmas list, and viola! I now have the shiny new thing in my hands.
The Shifter is the story of a fifteen-year-old orphan named Nya. Years ago all of Nya's family was killed in a takeover of their country and a resulting war, all except her younger sister Tali. Thankfully, Tali is an apprentice Healer - someone who can take injuries and pain away from and individual and then release it into a special stone called pynvium. She has a place to stay, food to eat and a future ahead of her. Things are a little more difficult for Nya. She can also take injuries and pain from others, but she can't release it into the pynvium. Nya must either hold the pain herself, or shift it to another person - a skill that is very dangerous to have. Nya knows that if the rulers found out out her talent, she could be taken to be used as a weapon. However, Nya soon finds it difficult to hide her secret ability. She's out of money, she's been kicked out of her room at the boarding house, and she can't find work anywhere. To top it off, strange things are happening at the League where her sister is training, and some apprentices are going missing. Nya will soon have to decide if it is better to hide her power, or use it, and if she does use it - is it right?
I loved the uniqueness of this book. It was completely different from anything I'd ever read. The characters are likable, and Nya's moral dilemmas are intriguing to mull over. The ending was mostly satisfying while also leaving it open for the sequel. A couple confusing sequences, and a rushed explanation of the political and social battles going on in the background cause me to give it four stars rather than five.