Valerie Zambito introduces readers to a new world of people filled with incredible powers as they unite to stand against an enemy from the past. The tone of Island Shifters: Book One: An Oath of the Blood is set perfectly within the first couple of pages as we’re introduced to Beck, a young man determined to not lose against the opponent he’s currently facing. We soon learn his commitment to victory lies with the knowledge that he will never live down the damage to his ego if he doesn’t stand victorious against Kiernan, a girl he has known for years. Unknown to Beck at this time is the knowledge that he and his friends Kiernan, Rogan and Airron will soon face a more serious danger.
Beck and his friends are known as shifters, people with the ability to wield magic. While there was a time when this was viewed as a gift, now it’s seen as more of a disease. By the random act of being born a shifter, a person is brought into the world owing a debt that must be repaid, and there are no excuses for not fulfilling this vow of servitude that requires all shifters to become defenders of the realm. However, an ancient evil has resurfaced and the role of defender takes on a whole new meaning as the heroes soon must make life-or-death decisions that affect everyone in the land.
I was swept away by the colorful characters and brisk pacing of the book, almost compelled to keep turning the pages as Zambito’s action-packed story carried me along. Beck, Kiernan, Rogan, and Airron are distinct characters that work equally as well together, or on their own, and I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between the childhood friends as they supported each other through the challenges they faced. I was especially interested in Kiernan’s story as her history seemed to be the most detailed.
I’m a firm believer in the adage that a hero (or heroes) can only be as good as the villains they face, and Adrian Ravener, along with his sister Avalon, are the epitome of evil. It’s rare that I have so much fun with reading a story from the villain’s perspective, but Adrian’s hunger for revenge and almost limitless power make him an interesting character to follow.
Another thing I enjoyed was the fact that the author made sure to incorporate rules within the ability of wielding magic. Both the heroes and the villains might seem like unstoppable gods at first glance but power comes with a price and it was interesting to see how the limitations of each shifter’s abilities were used to help increase the drama and drive the story forward, rather than provide a quick-fix to problems that arose.
Anyone who enjoys action-packed fantasy with an ensemble of colorful and interesting characters will enjoy reading Island Shifters: Book One: An Oath of the Blood.