Shifters

Shifters - Edward Lee Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 5
boobs: 4
bombs: 2
bondage: 4
blasphemy: 3
Bechdel Test: FAIL
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: FAIL

An interesting book from Ed Lee, wherein he departs from the style I've become accustomed to in the dozen or so other books I've read from him. Coincidentally, since I've moved from the Seattle area to the UK I've found myself reading at least three books set in Puget Sound, including this one. Mr. Lee's familiarity with the area is apparent, as I knew exactly which streets, restaurants and shops our protagonist was walking on, in and out of throughout the book. Also, Mr. Lee nailed the drizzly grey atmosphere and the way civilization suddenly disappears at the foothills of the Cascade mountains.

The structure of this book is classic Ed Lee: a gory vignette at the beginning that sets up the supernatural mystery, followed by two sets of plot lines that careen towards each other before their inevitable clash that shapes the conclusion. However, unlike the other books I've read from him, this book in particular feels like it's written by an author for authors. I don't know if it was supposed to be some kind of allegorical autobiography; I don't know Ed personally and I'm not the sort of fan who needs to pry into the personal details of artists. The protagonist is a struggling poet, and the story actually has a muse/succubus character that saves his life, artistically and physically. Poetry figures large in the book, but I'm not very good at reading it - so I felt excluded from the protagonist's inner life from very early in the book, and I couldn't relate to him as well as I think Ed wanted me to.

I believe the two plot lines were supposed to mirror each other in the hermetic sense, but it felt thin and forced. I feel like a greater commitment from the author to write a gorefest with elements of the writer's life or write about the writer's life within the context of a horror mystery would have helped this book. What happened was a watered down, mismatched and incongruent attempt to meld the two which fell apart because the two "layers" of the book operate on wildly different time frames, but the story tries to force them together into a single, human-sized scale. The plot was rushed at the expense of backstory and rounding out the supporting cast, both of which were vital to making this story work more than any other Ed Lee book I've read.

As I've come to expect from Mr. Lee, the command of the language, pace and cadence were excellent within each scene. It's an easy book to read, but I feel like Ed was trying very hard to paint an allegory with this story and though each chapter works very well, the total amalgam falls a bit short of it's goals. This isn't Mr. Lee's best effort, IMHO, but the price is right at smashwords and I think anyone who is a fan of Lee should try this book sooner rather than later during their efforts to complete his canon.

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.