"If Jena knew anything from growing up in a town full of shapeshifters, it was this: Everything changed."
From Elizabeth Hunter, author of the best-selling Elemental Mysteries, comes the first novel in the new Cambio Springs Mysteries, Shifting Dreams.
Somedays Jena Crowe just can't get a break. Work at her diner never ends, her two boys are bundles of energy, and she's pretty sure her oldest is about to shift into something furry or feathery. Added to that, changes seem to be coming to the tiny town of Cambio Springs, big changes that not everyone in the isolated town of shapeshifters is thrilled about. Caleb Gilbert was looking for change, and the quiet desert town seemed just the ticket for a more peaceful life. He never counted on violence finding him, nor could he have predicted just how crazy his new life would become. When murder rocks their small community, Caleb and Jena will have to work together. And when the new Chief of Police isn’t put off by any of her usual defenses, Jena may be faced with the most frightening change of all: lowering the defenses around her carefully guarded heart.
©2013 Elizabeth Hunter (P)2014 Audible Inc.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
It is difficult for me to be objective about Elizabeth Hunter's books. I am not a huge fan of her primary genre - sci-fi fantasy. But the genre is the last thing I am thinking about when I am buried in the midst of one of her books. I can become so engrossed and wrapped up in them, it is difficult for me to point to the one thing that sets her books apart. Her characters are always well developed and sympathetic (even the bad guys), her plot is logically laid out, but not overly predictable, her prose flows smoothly and her books are always well-edited.
Shifting Dreams was no exception. I read this in ebook format several months ago, before it became available on Audible. I was so impressed with her Elemental World series I wanted to read everything she had ever written. I liked it so much the first time I was eager to listen to it as soon as the audiobook was available. The plot revolves around a quirky little southwestern town with a "magical" spring - drinking from it gives some people and their offspring the ability to shape-shift. Rather than focusing on the mechanics of how that actually works, she focuses on the inter-relationships in a town that is full of eccentric and unique characters, with the least of their eccentricities being the ability to shift into another creature. And by allowing her characters to shift into several different species, many of which don't co-exist well in the wild, she adds another layer of complexity to the inter-relationship difficulties. She doesn't capitalize on this aspect too much in the first book, but seems to be laying a foundation.
The characters at the center of the story are sympathetic, each coming to the relationship slightly damaged with considerable baggage. The kids weren't too cute or too annoying, but seemed pretty realistic - at least as realistic as the plot would allow.
The narrator did a good job. My only criticism is that she wasn't Dina Pearlman. Just like the voice of Molly Harper will always be Amanda Ronconi to my ears, Elizabeth Hunter now speaks to me in Dina Pearlman's voice.
There are a couple of ebook novellas that provide some background to the series that I recommend reading. If they become audiobooks, I will reread them. The sequel to Shifting Dreams is now out in ebook format. I am going to try to wait until it is in audio format to listen to it.
So, I Read This Book Today . . .
This was my first introduction to Elizabeth Hunter, and I am so happy that I found her through a book blogging friend of mine. I listened to the Audible edition, narrated by Liisa Ivary, and this is just another example of how a good narrator can take a good book and make it even better. Her smooth delivery led me through the book, introducing me to the characters and the world in a smooth and well-modulated way.
The story itself introduces us to Cambio Springs, a shifter town – a dying town since the military base closed down. Without something good happening, the town will disappear, and the safety of its inhabitants as well. A bar, a small school, and a tiny café are about it. Seven extended families started the town when one of their number had a vision of a crow flying over hot springs. And one of those springs is very, very special.
Jena Crowe is a single mother, trying to keep her two boys fed and a roof over all their heads. After losing her husband three years ago she is lonely, but so busy she has no time to make any changes to that situation. Here comes Caleb Gilbert, the new Police Chief – a normal, apparently. Well, maybe not.
The story is interesting, the mythology well written, and it kept my attention quite well. There are some congruency issues that should have been caught by the editor, but they weren’t enough to be completely irritating. As another reviewer pointed out the Caleb character was pretty dumb at times – an officer who makes the kind of mistakes he makes is a dead man – clearly illogical for someone with his background. I really enjoyed the world building the most about the book. Interesting world building, to me, is just as important as character development. Ms. Hunter does just that.
I will be trying out her other books when I get a chance. I picked up A Hidden Fire: Elemental Mysteries, Book 1 narrated by Dina Pearlman. Right now it is on sale at Audible for $1.99, what a great deal!
well written full characters. I am a fan of the shifter novels but it was very refreshing to read a good book which comes at the story in the differed slant
The first novel in the Cambia Springs series is well written. The story contains characters with depth, secrets, & mystery. Strong character, plot, & storyline development. A bit of the supernatural with a lot of human elements thrown in.
No, started out with a strong story but then heavy doses of teenage angst in 30+ yr olds sunk it.
Probably not. I assume the style willnot change.
Pleasant voice well suited to the story. However, change in volume when people whisper not suitable for the environments where I listen to audiobooks.
Not necessarily although the author leaves an opening for it at the end.
Too bad as this started out interesting and engageing.
This is a girly love story with a touch of the supernatural thrown in.. What a waste of a credit. I was looking for a bit of action, just not there.. It should have been advertised a bit differently..
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