Reviewed by Nikyta
TITLE: The Choosing
AUTHOR: Annabelle Jacobs
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 210 pages
BLURB: Jerath is facing the biggest problem of his life. When boys in his shapeshifter village Eladir get their fangs, they must endure a coming-of-age rite called the Choosing, so they can take on their animal form. The rite is performed on the full moon, but the trouble is the Choosing involves having sex with a girl, and Jerath’s only interested in boys. Even if he manages to somehow get through the rite, he doesn’t know if he’ll ever find a mate in his village, where opposite-sex couples are the norm.
Even worse, he may miss the rite altogether after raiders attack his home and take several young men prisoner. Jerath will need the help of warriors if he’s to free the captive shapeshifters, so with his best friend, Serim, he flees south to find aid. Along the way, they meet Meren, a handsome warrior whose attraction to Jerath is instant and very much returned. But with the next full moon approaching and available time for the prisoners to undergo the Choosing running out, Jerath’s love life is far from his only worry.
I’m going to shamelessly say that covers are the first thing that draw me in so when I saw this one, I was intrigued. Then I found out that it was not only fantasy but had shifters and I just knew that I had to read it… and I’m very glad I did.
Jerath is eagerly awaiting going through The Choosing, where he can finally find out the nature of his animal. Unfortunately, he can’t do that until his fangs come in, which don’t seem to be in any hurry to grow. One day Jerath and his friend Serim are catching fish as part of their chores only to realize on the way back to their village that raiders have taken over the village and captured some of their people to sell as slaves. Scared for their lives and their captured loved ones, they try to seek help with a southern village, Chastil. The journey to Chastil is long and tiring but comes with a few unexpected surprises. Jerath thought he’d never find a mate but when he meets Meren, one of the warriors from Chastil, that just might change his whole future. The real question, however, is whether Meren and his people can help Jerath free his fellow shifters and whether they’ll both survive it to be able to see where their connection leaves them?
I must say, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this story as much as I did. I found Jerath amusing. He’s fierce and possessive but sweet and innocent. It was endearing to see him flustered one moment but then aggressive the next. Meren was the opposite in that he was bold and confident but then easily melted whenever Jerath decided to take the reins. I adored these two and the connection that they make. It’s sweet but intense, loving and hot. I wished there had been more of them because while I feel like I know them, I don’t feel like I know them as well as I could.
The characters are definitely a great addition to this book, however, I think the main appeal was the world the author created. It’s complex but easy to understand. I loved that shifters were freely known about and even that there were whole communities dedicated to them. I liked that the women were born knowing their shifter animal while the men had to wait until they completed The Choosing to know theirs. It added mystery and conflict to the story and made it interesting seeing how the rituals were done. I also liked the fact that it wasn’t just ‘expected’ that they were going to eventually shift but there was always that fear for Jerath that it might not happen.
I had a few niggles with this story. Mostly, I felt like sometimes Serim (Jerath’s female friend) outshined not only Jerath and Meren but the relationship they were building. At times, I felt like the bond between Serim and Jerath was stronger than the one between Meren and Jerath. (This is actually even more prominent when you look at the cover and see the black panther (Serim’s shifter form), which leaves me wondering why is there a black panther on the cover? I would think there would be a jaguar instead.) Personally, that lessened my enjoyment at times because I wanted to see more of the bond between Jerath and Meren not be reminded of the connection between Serim and Jerath. Beyond that, there are a few inconsistencies but I would have loved to see more of Meren’s culture since it seems so different, yet similar, to Jerath’s culture.
Readers should be warned, however, that there is m/f sex in this story. While necessary to the development of the story arc and of Jerath, I know some readers would appreciate being told of this. I’m not all that fond of girly bits in my stories and while I didn’t exactly like this part, I did think it needed to happen so I was fine with it overall.
All in all, even with my issues, I absolutely adored this one. It’s refreshing in a way, unique in others in how different it is from other shifter stories. Add to that, the world is quite fascinating and engaging and the bond that Jerath and Meren ultimately develop was nice to see. I’m hoping Ms. Jacobs decides to write more stories in this world because I’d love to explore it further, especially if that means seeing more of Meren’s culture and rituals.
Definitely recommended for those looking for a different kind of shifter story with an interesting journey and a good HEA.
Nikyta rates it –
BUY LINKS: Dreamspinner Press
Nikyta is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
To read all her reviews, click the link: NIKYTA’S REVIEWS