"Recommended to readers who love fantasy, great prose, and a wonderful epic story."
Amy's Marathon of Books blog
"Beautifully written...I enjoyed Bennett elaborating on a story from Irish legend and found her writing to be lyrical and detailed. Sive’s story was entertaining and engrossing, a lovely read for younger female fantasy lovers."
Tucson Unified School District
"Perfect for readers who want an exciting adventure that makes them wonder."
Storytellers of Ireland - Richard Marsh
"Holly Bennett has surpassed my wildest hopes…with a bright and impeccable style all her own…This is a writer with a genuine love and respect for Irish traditional stories who can be trusted to use her imagination to fill the gaps in the sources. Highly recommended."
"While reading this book I could almost see myself huddl[ed] by a fire at night, listening to a storyteller and every time he paused, begging him to continue. And then, when it ended, heaving a huge, satisfied sigh because it was such a wonderful tale, so masterfully told."
"A standout…Shapeshifter has an awful lot going for it. The story is compelling, the characters involving, the plot twists make sense, and the suspense is really, really suspenseful."
"Basic human emotions - fear, love, greed - move the tale along, and short first-person narratives that personalize the action are interspersed throughout."
"An endearing tale that gives a unique spin on this classic Irish legend...The characters are extremely memorable, and those who like fairy tales, fantasy, adventure, and legends will be left wishing there were more books to read when they're finished."
"Readers who are familiar with the reworking of traditional tales will be in for a treat because the author pays more attention to character development that spinning out the details of familiar stories, and the tale is told in a natural relaxed style...This is a great story, and one I have to praise highly to anyone who enjoys the type of high fantasy which brings out the truly bright and noble in every station of life. Highly Recommended."
Library Media Connection
"Lyrical language and descriptions transport readers to the Otherworld in this story inspired by Irish legend…Animal fantasy fans will savor the setting and the details about the wildlife…Exquisitely written."
Quill & Quire
"Bennett deftly embellishes Sive's story while remaining true to its mythic sources…A boldly written, tightly plotted and hard-edged novel….The book is unflinching in its emotional effect, which is rooted in its well-drawn characters."
"This novel is compelling, poignant, and very accessible...In this modern retelling [Bennett] has done justice to one of the evocative myths of the eternally young and their encounters with morals, and brought new life to the universe of Tir na nOg...The result is an appealing read."
"While reading this book I could almost see myself huddl[ed] by a fire at night, listening to a storyteller…and every time he paused, begging him to continue. And then, when it ended, heaving a huge, satisfied sigh because it was such a wonderful tale, so masterfully told."
"There's so much magic in Shapeshifter, it's difficult to know where to begin…The story itself is beautiful and adventure-filled and Bennett's magic transports us…Bennett's voice here is confident, her direction clear, she never misses a beat of this rich and gorgeous tale."
"Bennett does a lovely job of transforming the untold details of the original legend into a richly crafted epic novel... Bennett is particularly deft at handling the descriptions of place that mark a vivid path for readers...Highly recommended."
What If? Magazine
"Bennett has succesfully blended rich Irish mythology with engaging writing. Different character perspectives keep the story moving, and the reader entranced...I highly suggest that you add this to your reading list."
Storytellers of Ireland
Holly Bennett has surpassed my wildest hopes with a bright and impeccable style all her own This is a writer with a genuine love and respect for Irish traditional stories who can be trusted to use her imagination to fill the gaps in the sources. Highly recommended.
TriState YA Book Review
"The details flow along smoothly, aided by a glossary of pronunciation and a dictionary of characters and settings...The story is unique, the characters and plot are appealing to both male and female readers, and the action nver stops. Bennett has written a remarkable novel...A perfect choice for a middle school or high school library."
VOYA - Christina Li
Shapeshifter attempted to be a gripping fantasy novel, but fell short with its shoddy character development and awkward transitions. Bennet jumps forward years, leaving crucial gaps which prevent readers from empathizing more with the book's protaganist Sive. Readers become apathetic to the plight of Sive and those around her as they are threatened by the Dark Man. Reviewer: Christina Li, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Lauri J. Vaughan
Sive possesses two gifts. One is a lovely singing voice which she employs as a performer at the king's court, and which attracts the attention of several admirers. The other is her ability to transform into a fleet and beautiful doe. When evil Far Doirche seeks to commandeer her hypnotic voice to control "the magical one," Sive is forced to escape to the mortal world, leaving behind a life filled with the promise of beauty and love. There, she meets the powerful Finn Mac Cumhail and discovers that love and beauty exist in both worlds. Unfortunately, so too, does evil, and when Far Doirche pursues her, the comfort and safety of Finn's home grows frighteningly fragile. Bennett artfully weaves traditional Irish folklore into her story of Sive. The enchantment of Bennett's interpretation of the legend of Sive is a perfect match to her prose which, at times, is as liquid as we imagine Sive's songs to be. Bennett employs liberal use of first-person streams-of-consciousness from a variety of characters' points of view as transitions. The brief intervals, set off in italics, provide a dreamlike quality. Unfortunately, the story suffers from its brevity and the reader is left yearning for three fully fleshed out novels, instead of this reduction to one in three parts. Shapeshifter will appeal to adolescent girls, as well as boys who can outlast the courtship scenes to find the exciting chase. Reviewer: Lauri J. Vaughan
Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Sive's melodious voice paradoxically empowers her yet makes her vulnerable to wicked sorcerer Far Doirche in mythical Ireland. Her story is told in three parts which elaborate elements and lore originally presented in a legendary tale featuring Sive, mortal Finn mac Cumhail, and their hybrid son Oisin. As a young woman, Sive resides with her parents, Derg Dianscothach and Grian, in Tir na nOg where she discovers she can magically change into a spotted doe. Kind and generous, Sive yearns for romance, seeking love and naively exposing herself to the attentions of both honorable and unsavory suitors. Cruel Far schemes to use Sive's songs to mesmerize people so he can control them with his powerful hazel rod. Themes of transformation, exile, and instinct shape Sive's escape from Far's menacing plans to exploit her. She flees her homeland as a deer, invisible to Far who can detect Sive only when she shifts back to human form. Frantic Far will catch her, Sive slips into the mortal world and finds what she hopes is a sanctuary with Finn and his warriors, the Fianna. The flowing text transfixes readers much like Sive's lyrical voice as Sive struggles to survive. Supplementary information includes author's commentary, map, glossary of character and geographical names, and a brief version of the legend inspiring this retelling. Pair with Rosemary Sutcliff's The High Deeds of Finn MacCool (1967). Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In the time of Irish legends, there was the land of Eire and the Otherworld where magical beings lived and time was of no consequence. This story moves between these two worlds, mortal and immortal. Sive begins the tale as a young girl who has special gifts. She is a shapeshifter, able to take on the form of a deer, and a singer who is able to hold sway over anyone who hears her song. Unfortunately, she becomes an object of great desire for the most evil and powerful druid, Far Doirche. To escape him she exiles herself into the mortal world and must remain in the shape of a deer for many years. Readers who are unwilling to commit to a lengthy fantasy will welcome this well-told tale that draws on Irish legend, language, and geography to complete its setting and mood. The characters are numerous, but there is enough backstory that readers can keep track of their relationships. Fantasy fans will enjoy this tightly woven story and appreciate the map, pronunciation guide, and legend that round out the experience.—Genevieve Gallagher, Charlottesville High School, VA
Read an Excerpt
I didn't dare move, my four legs as uncertain and untried as a newborn's... The triumph of what I had done thrilled through my blood, and the terror of it too. It had happened without my effort or will. What if I could not change back? Panic rose up in my breast, and I might have tried to claw my way out of my new skin if not for the fawn. He nuzzled beside me, nosing my flank as though checking for milk and then backing up awkwardly to find and lick my muzzle. The wonder of it pushed away the fear, and once I stopped being afraid, I understood that returning to my own form would be as simple as willing it.