Monday, June 22, 2009
Shifted by Colin D. Jones
(Foremost Press / 0-978-97048-9 / 978-0-978-97048-2 / April 2008 / 360 pages / $16.97)
Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM
Shifted is not your father’s werewolf story. While drawing on some classic elements of the werewolf legend, Colin D. Jones’s novel breaks new ground in the genre, producing a theory for lycanthropy that incorporates quantum physics and the multi-verse theory and even traces its roots back to the Viking ulfhedinn, or berserkers. The result is a taut, well-developed novel that is more science fiction than horror and completely enjoyable by a wide range of readers.
Mark Arsenault is a young man with a terrible secret. He knows that some dark monster lurks within him, struggling to get out. Not being a fool and growing up in the era of 70’s horror films and comic books, he knows perfectly well that the term “werewolf” most appropriately applies to his condition. Yet, he does not fit the all the classic descriptions of a werewolf – “It” wants out all the time, not only during a full moon, and the touch of silver does no harm to him. Also, no part of the werewolf legend can account for the Ghost – a shadowy but familiar figure which tries to guide and educate him – or his occasional glimpses of the future.
Raised in a loveless and abusive household by a mother and stepfather who fear and hate him, Mark lives an isolated existence until a caring teacher takes an interest in him. However, a kindly offer of refuge might just develop into something deeper and set off a chain reaction of events, leading to a cataclysmic event. A government agency, which knows exactly what Mark Arsenault is, is seeking to enlist the boy for its own nefarious purposes. The visitations from Ghost, whoever he is, are getting stronger, and Mark’s own exploration of his darker side suggests – in the vein of classic horror films – that the monster inside him, while capable of great violence, is not a monster at all and may in fact represent the noblest part of himself.
Shifted is well-written and carefully edited, as well as craftily plotted to build suspense. Jones reels out the information carefully over time, revealing just enough to keep the reader understanding events but not enough to give away what’s coming next. Characters are well-rounded, and dialogue is highly believable. The scientific basis for Jones’s version of lycanthropy makes sense and is presented without resort to awkward exposition or phony conversation. My only complaint is that the cover image has a comic book feel to it that does not quite match the novel. I rather wish the image was made to look more like a 70’s comic book cover – which Mark Arsenault might well have been reading – or replaced with something more elegant and dignified, to match the cleverly designed scientific theory created by the author. Overall, this was a highly enjoyable novel that should appeal to science fiction readers as well as fans of horror/paranormal books and classic monster films.
See Also: The High Spirts Review
Colin D. Jones' Website
Colin D. Jones' Blog