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Nina Berry’s Otherkin has the potential to create as much hype and have as big a fan base as Twilight and The Hunger Games. Her debut novel dives right into the action and drama of Desdemona’s battle with disease and the world of animal shifters known as otherkin. When strong emotion causes her to change into a tiger, things start to get stranger and stranger for Desdemona and she soon finds herself wrapped up in a world where danger never seems to disappear.
Whether she is running from the dreaded Tribunal, a religious force determined to drive the otherkin to extinction, or trying to get the different shifter tribes to work together against a common enemy, Desdemona does not bring disappointment to readers.
Berry has successfully written a fast-paced novel filled with the many issues teens go through in a way that will keep them flipping pages and wanting more. Most of the characters in Otherkin do not see eye to eye with their families who keep them secluded within their own tribe, only letting them mingle with shifters of a different animal species when they are chosen to go to a school meant only for young shifters who have the most trouble learning to shift into their animal form and maintain control.
These teens are told again and again by their parents that they are to marry young, have kids to maintain the dying shifter population, and continue the cycle of tribal preservation.
Getting along with those considered different is highly frowned upon, but when Desdemona, rumored to be the last tiger shifter, arrives at the shifter school and requests refuge from the Tribunal, she must convince both the teen shifters and their parents that she is worth the risk. Further complicating her situation is her companion, Caleb. He is a caller, someone who can force otherkin to shift back and forth between animal and human form and also call upon the shadow that resides in shifters as well as some objects. Callers and shifters have been known to tolerate each other, but even that has never gone exactly to plan.
As the group is forced to work together, Desdemona helps them to accept themselves and others, even as she battles with her inner demons. Could this be the generation to change the tradition of self-preservation at any cost that is central to each tribe? After all, when has an eagle played friends with a mouse, other then when he wants it to be his meal.
The animal nature at the base of each tribe causes the most difficult complication in Desdemona’s goal to achieve cooperation. Desdemona continues to push the idea that otherkin are not just animals, they are also human, and humans can get along.
Nina Berry’s Otherkin may be the first book in the similarly named series, but readers will already be hooked and have high expectations for the next installment. For a first novel, Berry has set herself a standard that may be hard to surpass. The pace of the novel starts off fast and readers may be doubtful that Berry will be able to maintain their interest as well as the pace, but she has down so with grace.