By Kate Ormand
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2015
A Unique Twist on Shape-Shifters with Fast-Paced Action, Thrilling Adventure, Mystery, and a Bit of Romance
Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.
In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.
Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.
Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?
The Wanderers, while I fully expected it to be enjoyable, blew me away. I knew I was going into a shape-shifter story, I knew that shit would hit the fan at some point, and I knew that there would be the requisite YA romance. However, I was not banking on Kate’s amazing writing, her acute characterization, nor her ability to hook you on such an overused supernatural element like shape-shifters, one that has been chewed up and spit out so many times that you could slurp it up with a straw.
Rather gross, but accurate, imagery aside, the plot was so refreshing that I felt that I was encountering shape-shifters for the first time. These shifters were not unique: they changed into animals at will, could connect to “their animal,” and were susceptible to silver. All common recurrences in shifter lore. Rather, the uniqueness of these shifters was that they were a group of misfits. Each of the characters was forced into this circus, a rather realistic cover, by the way, by circumstances beyond their control and became a part of this little pack. They came together regardless of their shifter species and worked together to just scrape by. They were by no means the top of the food chain in the world Kate creates and I found it all the more realistic because of it. The characters are hunted because of what they are, and live in fear for merely existing, and are all the more human, and relatable, for it.
The plot was so much more expansive than I thought it would be going in. The shifter world was not only fully developed, with its own unique backstory, but the plot delves so much deeper than several teenagers on the run from the book’s villain. Throughout the book, more and more layers are peeled away from Flo’s life as well as the outward appearance of other characters. There is immense loss, from that of life to trust to what the characters believed their reality consisted of. The plot also moves quite quickly, with the action going nonstop once it gets its initial push.
Not only did the plot keep me hooked, but it worked in tandem with the wonderful cast of characters, one propelling the other along. Flo was by far my favorite, with her love Jett coming in a close second. These two were so cute together and such a solid couple. Their relationship is one of my favorite types, with the romantic aspect having been established prior to the start of the book and having been built on a long term, practically life long, friendship. I could sense how much Flo and Jett loved each other, how one was so fiercely protective of the other, and I adored how there was no doubt in their relationship during the events of the book. Kate was confident enough in her plot and character development that she refused to fall into the vast hole of relationship drama to push her plot along. A wide variety of other shifters, as well as humans, are introduced, each with unique personalities and while not all are pleasant to Flo, or to read about in general, they are all fully realized. And in that aspect, they were wonderful characters.
The Wanderers comes highly recommended. It was a quick whirlwind read that makes me wish it wasn’t a standalone. I want more of Flo and Jett being adorable, I want more of them seeking justice for their kind against hunters, and I need to see them have a solid happily ever after, not just an ending with a positive note. Since I can’t have a sequel without writing one myself, I think I’ll just have to settle for adding more of Kate Ormand’s books to my ever expanding To Be Read Pile.
KATE ORMAND is a YA writer represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate is also a member of an online group of published writers and illustrators called Author Allsorts. And she writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise.
You can see more about Kate and her writing by visiting her website (www.kateormand.wordpress.com) or on Twitter (@kateormand).
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Disclaimer: Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for providing the synopsis, cover photo, author information, and more. None of these belong to us. The eARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.