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.
Although this is about shapeshifting, don't be fooled into thinking it was childish or that's all it's about. It was so much more and I loved it for that. I loved how it was dark and a little creepy, I loved the introduction of sensitive topics like abuse and I especially loved the blending of the gritty underworld and the up-scale City life.
I fell instantly into the under world of London, and can I just say that setting it in London is brilliant! The city is basically perfect for the creepy and secretive shifting world, with dank Tube stations and the Tower of London. Now, back to shape shifting, I really liked the mystical element of shifting. Even if it wasn't completely explained, some blanks were filled in and the bits that weren't, it wasn't because the author couldn't be bothered, it was more that it was a lost secret to the characters. That, to me, made it brilliant: as confusing and weird as it was to the reader, Meg had no more idea than we did and we found out what we could together. I also liked the variety of animals, although who would want to shift into a spider I have no idea!
I adored Meg. She was very real; she fought with her weight, didn't like the social scene her friends did, suffered terribly from emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her mother. Considering the amount of crap she has put up with, I loved how sweet and empathetic she was. She was quite tough skinned, but also very vulnerable and needed the freedom that shifting gave her. I especially liked how she gained more confidence from shifting as it allowed her to have a secret life away from her awful home life.
Finally, I greatly appreciated the secondary characters. Addie was so amazing, considering her lot in life; James was incredibly funny in a well-spoken Artful Dodger sort of way; Suzanne was lovely and a charming mother figure that Meg desperately needed; and Mo was so very talented and ladish in a funny way. Speaking of which, the romance slipped in there was very sweet, it didn't shift focus from the main plot and as much I love a good love story, I really liked that it wasn't exaggerated and allowed to grow naturally. Or as naturally as a budding romance can grow as they're fighting for their lives against a power-hungry sorceress.
Publisher 3rd October 2013 by Strange Chemistry. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.