Ah, shifter stories. We love them and they come in many flavors rather than just werewolf. They’re quite popular right now in the young adult fantasy and paranormal scene. Who doesn’t love a hot guy who can shift into a dragon or a girl who discovers she has a rare ability to shift into a mermaid? (Yes, mermaid shifters do exist in fiction. How cool is that?)
Shifter stories have been around since we drew pictures in caves. The fact that there are shifter legends in so many different cultures points to this. So, what exactly is a shifter story and why haven’t we gotten sick of them yet? Here are some common elements that draw us to them again and again:
1: Surprise! It’s your birthday. By the way, did you know you’re a shifter? Who doesn’t love a story about a girl discovering her shifter powers just as she’s getting her drivers’ license or getting ready to go to college? The invite to a shifter academy shows up or her powers manifest when someone tries to murder her (see point #4.) And it’s awesome from our perspective. Frankly, running through the woods as a wolf sounds liberating, doesn’t it? And better yet, our main character is somehow unique in the shifter world, which of course means it’s up to her to save the world or stop the Ultimate Evil from taking over.
2: The main character’s parents are usually missing before the story even starts. Okay, so this is a trope we see in Disney movies quite often and this appears so much in teen shifter stories that we’re amazed Disney hasn’t adapted them to film yet. The main character’s parents are usually dead or missing, which conveniently conceals the main character’s true nature until that coming-of-age moment where she learns the truth. And it keeps us reading every time. Of course we want to know who the main character’s parents are and how messed up and unique that makes our protagonist!
3: A love interest introduces her to the shifter world. Whether he’s the guy who invites her to the shifter academy or the new dude at school who’s perfect at everything from calculus to football, we have to have a hot love interest who is preferably an alpha male (sometimes literally.) It doesn’t matter if he’s the alpha of his werewolf pack or a lost dragon shifter prince. The principle is the same. And better yet, their relationship is meant to be no matter how many rival packs or other shifters try to get in the way. Happily ever after, anyone?
4: Other paranormal species always try to wreck the day. Yep. Our main character’s unique abilities always draw out vampires, witches, rival packs, and other baddies who want her out of the way so they can take over the world. Oh, and they typically somehow get in the way of our protagonist and her love interest finally getting together. (The threat of dying tends to mess with that.) And we thought our relationship problems were bad!
So even though shifter stories have been around since the cave days, like all fantasy stories, they show no signs of going away soon. To find your next fantasy read, be sure to check out Torment Publishing’s selection of awesome young adult titles.