by Colin D Jones, horror/fantasy (2008)
Foremost Press, $16.97, ISBN 978-0-978-97048-2
Shifted is a werewolf story given a, shall we say, scientific treatment. Which is to say, author Colin D Jones attempts to turn his character Mark Arsenault's adventures in lycanthropy into something more like science-fiction than horror. We have poor Mark struggling to deal with his unusual nature, which isn't easy given that he personally has no clue what is going on and his only mentor is an apparition called simply the Ghost. As Mark deals with the changes he is experiencing, he finds himself being on the radar of creepy government people who seem to be intent on exploiting him for sinister purposes. What is going on here? Well, the reader will find out along with Mark in this story.
This is a pretty interesting read since Mr Jones attempts to portray lycanthropy in a way that is different from the usual full moon and silver bullet manner. However, the story is riddled with various small technical flaws that, unfortunately, do add up to present a significant distraction from the story itself. Characters tend to tell each other things that they should already know in unnecessary scenes clearly inserted for the sake of the reader. The author sometimes get carried away in describing minute details that turn out in the end to be unimportant, slowing down the momentum of his story in the process. The characters tend to be rather flat and uninteresting.
All things considered, this is one of the better paid-to-play science fiction or horror stories I've come across lately, but still, it could always be tightened up, editing wise, to be so much better. Pacing and tension building are two crucial aspects in making stories such as this one work, and the author falters considerably now and then in these aspects. As a result, there is still a very obvious unpolished aspect to the writing that bog down an otherwise inventive tale.
By the way, the PDF version of this book is available from the publisher website for $4.97, if you feel that the price of the dead tree version is too steep for your liking.
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