Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Forgotten Menagerie Anthology by Kate Lowell, Alex Whitehall, Avery Vanderlyle, Angelia Sparrow, Cari Z., Amanda Ching

I recently received a copy of the Forgotten Menagerie Anthology from Storm Moon Press for review.  I was super excited to read about shifters that didn't fit the mold that we usually see in PNR fiction.  There are NO cat or wolf shifters here!  I loved the idea of a squirrel shifter.  Adorable!  Here's the Goodreads blurb and the cover:

A shifter leads two lives: one as a human, and one as an animal. Sometimes these lives are intertwined, and sometimes they are not, but always the shifter has to find a way to reconcile one with the other. Forgotten Menagerie reminds us that not all shifters are werewolves or werecats, despite the preponderance of them in fiction. The stories in this anthology focus on shifters with animal forms other than canine and feline, building their own mythos for these non-traditional species.

In Nuts About You, Nathan's been crushing on one of his regular Bulk Mart customers for a while now. In squirrel form, he sits on Vince's bird feeders, munching on seeds and enjoying the eye candy. Until the day Vince notices him raiding the feeder... Then, in The Greatest of These, Daniel struggles to deal with his new-found sexuality and his Catholic faith. He's already overcome the question of how otter shifters fit into God's plans, but the next step is so much harder. After all, people don't picket about otters burning in Hell. Eber's shifting in Mirrors, the Moon, and the Boy is a curse carried by his family for nearly 500 years, but he's found a sexy side to it that makes him popular at the elite club "Conquistador" in Madrid. His legendary prowess inevitably leads to questions about why he's never there on the full moon. And when he begins to explore a budding connection with young American Miguel, the stakes get even higher if Eber's secret is ever revealed.

Dobson needs his Burdens Lightened, as he has a farm that's too big for one man and has to work construction to keep it paid for. The boss's nephew, Jim, is on the crew this summer—his father's idea to sweat the gay out of him. But Jim wants Dobson, and the feeling is mutual. To the point that Dobson is about to show a part of himself to Jim that no one has ever seen and that only the right person can see. Finally, Carter is eager to sever ties with the ignorant lout who married his sister and thereby owns half of the family ranch, but the only way to do that is to beat his brother-in-law to the cattle auction. That means a trip through Dangerous Territory full of hard terrain, venomous snakes, and flash floods. Fortunately, a deal with the local shifter tribe earns Carter a guide, the stern and humorless Rani, who has his own reasons for coming along.
Everyone of these stories is amazing.  I loved the adorable story of Nathan the squirrel shifter and Vince his regular customer crush.  The two of them are oblivious to each other's feelings and they kind of blunder into their relationship.  The story has a ton of funny lines and honestly, how is a man turning into a cute little squirrel not adorably awesome?!  This may be my favorite of the anthology but it is hard to pick just one favorite.  Daniel's story was poignant and deep (a bit literally).  It deals with him coming to terms with ALL of the changes that becoming a shapeshifter have brought his way.  He classified himself as asexual prior to the change but when he gains his otter's sex drive, he finds himself attracted to the man who saved his life by changing him.  Daniel's a very devout Catholic and it takes a Sign to get him to understand that his faith is between him and God, not him and the Bible.  I really enjoyed this story with it's deep emotional journey and the great descriptions of being an otter.  Eber's story was written very differently from the others, or at least it read differently to me.  I especially liked that I was kept guessing what his animal form was until the end and I NEVER saw it coming.  I also learned things about his animal that I had never known and never would have thought to look up!  (The author must have done so pretty serious research for this!)  And it was so well written!  Dobson's story was great as well!  He reminds me of Big Mac from My Little Pony.  Calm, quiet and steady.  His human side and his animal side are very similar.  I liked that the story had an open ending that left me wondering what happened next.  The descriptions of the chores and the farm were impeccable as well, I felt as if I was really there.  The idea that only certain people could see their animal was super unique and intriguing too.  Loved this one.  The final story with Carter and Rani was great too!  It had the feel of a western romance.  The author made the characters instantly hit you, emotionally.  I felt bad for the sister and disliked her.  I hated the brother in law who was obviously a villain.  I found Rani interesting and complex.  I thought at first that he must be a ferret but his animal side made me gasp when I finally saw it; unexpected, for sure! I also loved that Carter had a vision for his own future at the end of the story when his began it so low.  All in all, I loved this anthology!  It was so good.

I am really enjoying working with Storm Moon Press!  You can click here to find Forgotten Menagerie on Goodreads.  You can purchase the Anthology from Storm Moon Press here.  I give the anthology 5 Fairies for an amazing collection of interesting shapeshifters find love that was so well done!

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