Podcast Review #101: Shape Shifters

Title: Shape Shifters
Author: S. Lawrence Parrish
Genre: Monster Horror
Released: 22 August 2011 – 8 September 2011
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: podcast only

Rating: R for violence, language, sexual situations

I’ve recently greatly enjoyed going to Podiobooks.com and simply perusing their offered wares. That is how I stumbled upon Shape Shifters. I read the synopsis (below) and when I got to line “a werewolf tale with no vampires” I knew I had to give it a listen.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: The sun sets. The moon rises. And the night howls…

The people in the foothills town of Black Diamond are thrilled to hear of government plans for commercial development of the Kananaskis Parklands. With three world-class ski resorts within an hour’s drive, everyone is going to get rich! But The Fellowship, a colony of “nature nuts” who live to the immediate west of Black Diamond, are effectively stalling the government’s plans. Hostilities escalate when a hitch-hiker is brutally slaughtered just outside of town…

Shape Shifters–a werewolf tale with NO vampires. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: Shape Shifters was easy to listen to. All of the audio levels were safely within comfortable limits. There were many sound effects and the use was usually done fairly well. However, on at least one occasion I can remember, the cycling of the effect was a bit repetitive.

Grade: B+

Cast: Mr. Parrish read his story independently and did quite an adequate job of it. Some of the voiced characters were a bit similar and occasionally the listener might be confused as to whose point of view he is listening to. The story is told from a variety of view points so it is hard to single in on a single character as being the lead character. However, all of the ensemble characters were interesting enough that the average listener will be interested in hearing what is happening to each one.

Grade: B+

Story: The story is a straight forward werewolf tale. The town is divided into two camps. The humans and the wolves. Of course the humans know nothing of the wolves and are only aware that there is something “different” about the freaks that choose to live in the woods and keep to themselves. While the story offered nothing completely new in the way of werewolf folklore, it also did not try to change everything we know. It also, as promised, contained no vampires.

Grade: C

Verdict: I had high hopes for Shape Shifters. The werewolf has always been one of my favorite classic monsters. I was a bit disappointed in several aspects of the story though. One, once again the monster is really not a monster. They’re too human. They’re treated poorly as people and we’re supposed to have a sympathetic reaction. I wanted a terror story where evil wolves hunted/killed hapless humans. That isn’t this story. *SPOILER* Add that too a scene of bestiality that was much too graphic for my tastes and unless you’re a huge fan of the genre, I’d have to recommend you give Shape Shifters a pass.

Shameless plug: Don’t forget, if you send an audio comment to me at Odin1eye at viewfromvalhalla dot com, I’ll include it in the podcast version of this episode next weekend (or when I receive it). You can also leave voicemail, for this or any other story, at the Valhalla Hotline simply by calling 956-307-ODIN (6346)

Disclosure:I don’t follow Mr. Parrish on Twitter, nor have I ever had a conversation with him.

Comment Pages

There are 11 Comments to "Podcast Review #101: Shape Shifters"

  • Steve Parrish says:

    Thanks for taking the time to listen to and review Shape Shifters. Sorry it didn’t work out for you. Maybe consider my other novel Podiobook, SHAT–a post-apocalypse tale with a feline twist (just as gritty as Shape Shifters). Question: Is it really bestiality if you do it with a werewolf?

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks so much for the comment! I really appreciate it when authors drop by!

      As to the bestiality, if the character is in wolf form when the copulation takes place, then it’s bestiality to me. I understand though if others disagree.

      I appreciate free content and yours did keep me listening. If I could write a story over 3000 words, I’d count that as a win.

  • Trick Brown says:

    Despite the review, I have to admit I am now curious. I’m not sure what that says about me. Nothing good I am sure.

    Fortunately, I have many hours at work where I can listen to even grade C work.

    Thanks for the review! And thanks for writing Mr. Parrish. I’ll put this in my queue.

  • Trick Brown says:

    Actually, I probably did enjoy it a bit more than Odin. I’d give it a solid B. I’d rate it a little higher, but there weren’t any surprise twists or anything. Over all, I think it was quite solid as a story, and the fact that there were no surprises didn’t stop me from enjoying it.

    I read a review on Podiobooks where someone commented that they felt there were too many names beginning with the letter “J”. This is true. I think it might be easier to keep straight in print because of the visual cues of the names, but while listening as an audiobook it can be tough to keep them all straight. Fortunately, the author does a fair job of keeping them differentiated by reading them with different enough voices it didn’t ruin the story. Speaking of which, I liked Mr. Parrish’s reading voice. It had a “smoky” quality which I think actually enhanced the story.

    Another quibble that I think was a by product of listening to it as opposed to reading the story. The chapter/subchapter layout. I think there were only six chapters to the book and each chapter had 5-7 subchapters. Couple that with the author naming each audio file as “track #” and it became very difficult keeping the structural flow of the story in mind. Without the visual cues of chapter headings I think the structure would have been better served by naming the chapters as “parts” and then numbering the subchapters sequentially from 1 to the end.

    I bring this up only because every once in a while an author will fail to name all of the audio files consistently (A missing space, slightly different/missing meta-data, etc.) which will cause my .mp3 player to list the files out of order or in different folders and then I have to be careful to the way I listen to the story. Without the chapter cues as to where I was in the story I could have easily screwed up the listening order, but fortunately, all the audio files were labeled consistently and it was a non-issue.

    As for the bestiality scene: Since I knew it was coming, it was immediately obvious as to which character was going to “get it” as soon as the character was introduced. I think this fore-knowledge ruined this character for me because it seemed as though her only purpose for being in the story was to be in this scene. Had I not known a priori, I may not have felt this way at the end.

    But, I feel if you’re going to read in depth reviews prior to reading/listening to a work, you have to cope with the spoilers, so I blame myself.

    • odin1eye says:

      I am so sorry. I work quite hard to keep spoilers out of my reviews and didn’t even think about this one because I felt it was obvious from the beginning that it was going to go there. However, you’re completely correct that it is a spoiler and should be labeled as such. Now it is.

      Thank you so much for posting such an excellent alternative review. You make some salient points. Reviewing is always, to an extent, subjective so I love when someone that has obviously listened to it without prejudice posts.

      Thanks again, and again, my apologies.

      • Trick Brown says:

        No worries. I would have read the spoiler anyway, as that label never stops me from reading forward.

        In truth, it’s what got me to read the story. I was curious as to how Mr. Parrish handled the scene as a writer. I don’t read a lot of sexually explicit work, and I think all things considered he handled the writing of the scene quite well. I just think the character and scene themselves were forced into the story.

        This is for Mr. Parrish and other potential readers: It is easy to focus on the negative when critiquing. in a book with 50-60 scenes, one or two feeling a bit out of place is not exactly anomalous and shouldn’t stop someone from reading/listening to the story, in my opinion.

  • Steve Parrish says:

    Thanks for all your time and effort, guys! Check out my podiobook SHAT for twists and surprises. Coming soon: Chicken Pi, my ever-growing collection of short stories; you’ll find some weirdness in these tales as well.

  • T4nkWings says:

    I posted this review on iTunes and podiobooks.com, and thought I should put it here as well.

    Ok, so let me start off by saying that i’m very impressed. I first heard about this book when listening to another author’s podcast novel. Seconds in to the preview for Shape Shifters, i knew i had to have it. I quickly popped into iTunes and began my journey into the world of Shape Shifters.

    The first thing that grabbed me was the author’s voice. There is something about it; some quality to it that lends greatly to this story. I found that it grabbed my attention right away, and has yet to let me down. I’ve listened to hundreds of audio books/ podcast “podio” books, and i really prefer hearing the author’s voice reading them. You get more out of it, i feel. He speaks as he has imagined the characters to be when writing the story. Mr. Parrish’s voice does just that.

    Alright, now on to the story. I found the ‘writing’ style to be very well paced. He gets in to just enough details to get you thinking and paying attention, but not too much to bore you or seem like he’s a try-hard. He has a point to get across, and he does so quite well. The story and character development moves along briskly, but does so without feeling rushed. It has a great flow.

    As far as the characters in the story, once again, I can’t complain. They are very believable, and have a broad range of personality traits. It’s very easy to ‘feel’ what they are going through. A job well done, in my opinion. The animalistic undertones to the characters as they develop is very cool and, in my opinion, very well thought out. I like a character that i can imagine being real, and Mr. Parrish has provided. 🙂

    Now, for the storyline/plot itself, I am very satisfied. There are no real unexpected twists and turns (which i generaly like to have), but i don’t feel that they are lacking in this story. This isn’t a story that is meant to spin your head around and confuse you. I feel that the author had a direction he wanted to go in, and he stuck to it. It worked out very well and in fact, i’m glad there are no weird twists or surprises. I think that had there been any, it would have taken away from the satisfaction of the story itself. I didn’t want to wonder what was happening next, or if so-and-so was really this way or not. I just wanted to hear the tale unfold. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what (I feel) was delivered.

    Regarding the ‘graphic’ content, i feel it was just right. There was ‘blood and guts’ 😉 when there needed to be, and there was strong sexual content when there needed to be. This isn’t a kid’s bedtime story about the big bad wolf; this is an adult werewolf story. When there is passion, it should be conveyed in a passionate manner. The ‘animalistic’ nature that is involved in this story would (in my opinion) tend to lead the reader wanting something like that. I found the ‘adult content’ to be tasteful enough, but with enough vulgarity to keep it exciting.

    All-in-all, I feel that this is a homerun. Great job, Mr. Parrish. I am looking forward to listening to ‘SHAT’, Chicken Pi, and the rest of your future stories. Thank you for providing such an enjoyable adventure!

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