I’m giving this novel a solid FOUR STARS.
When Meg witnesses the dying moments of a shapeshifting fox and is given a beautiful and powerful stone, her life changes forever. She is plunged into the dark world of the Skulk, a group of shapeshifting foxes.
As she learns about the other groups of shapeshifters that lurk around London – the Rabble, the Horde, the Cluster and the Conspiracy – she becomes aware of a deadly threat against all the shapeshifters. They must put aside all their enmity and hostility and fight together to defeat it.
(As you may notice, I’ve changed my review style. First I’ll write the things I didn’t like and then finish with the things I liked, just keep things neat and simple.)
- Meg’s parents, especially her mum. While I acknowledge that women like her must exist in the world, she felt too much like an exaggerated cartoon character. I think it also comes down to my preference with antagonists: I want them to have redeeming qualities, even a tiny sliver. I want them to feel real. Her dad on the other hand … every time he was in a scene, all I saw in my head was a cardboard cutout of a man in a business suit with an expressionless face. I get that part of his personality was his indifference, and that Meg literally calls him Invisible Man, but it would’ve been nice to see more interaction between the two of them as I felt they were an interesting pair. I don’t even think he had more than three or two lines in the whole novel.
- Meg’s acceptance of her new-found shapesifting abilities. I feel like she should have questioned it more. She accepted it so easily. I suppose it can be explained by the hatred she has of her family life — that she embraced it as another (very cool) avenue of freedom — but I feel like if that had happened to me, no matter how I hated my life, it would be the subject of my thoughts 24/7. I’d be doing so much more than googling.
- The premise is unique. The book was a breath of fresh air I never knew I needed. These days, shapeshifting in both fiction and TV is all about wolves. But our heroine is a fox, collectively called the Skulk. There are also the Rabble (butterflies), the Horde (rats), the Conspiracy (ravens), and the Cluster (spiders). I like that they’re all urban animals which fit the setting. Also, how cool are the names?!
- The relationship between Meg and Addie. This really warmed my heart. I loved how instinctively protective and trusting they were of each other. Every time they showed affection towards each other, I felt like there were golden orbs of sunlight in my eyes, in the best possible way.
- It was an exciting read. It started off slow and I admit to not wanting to go through with it, but I’m glad I did. I was so hooked, I almost missed my stop at the city because I didn’t want to put it down. On the train ride back home, I saw there was only about half a thumb-width left for a one hour ride that I ended up forcing myself to read slowly so it would last me the whole trip. Better that than sitting in agony, suppressing my emotions on a packed train.
I really enjoyed this book but it’s a shame I won’t be able to read the next one. Strange Chemistry, the publishing company responsible for Skulk books, have closed their doors, effectively cancelling all future publication projects. It’s sad, really. It would be nice to have some closure, to know where these characters are headed, what they will do, what they will lose, how they will change. Here’s hoping Ms. Best finds success in that venture!