Thursday, January 24, 2013
What Animals Make the Best Shifters? And Why
With the age of shifters upon us, I want to consider why authors choose the animals they do as the shiftee.. I understand why the wolf was chosen.. that particular character is steeped in myth. The werewolf has played a part in our history so we accept it as is.
And because it was a particular part of our history it made sense that PNR authors twist that myth and create a unique format. Wolves are gorgeous, so to make them sexy was easy, sort of (I don't want to demean what these awesome authors have done) but my point is we already accept that wolves can shift.
The next step was to start choosing other animals that could shift.. what to choose? Well, a wolf is a predator and it makes sense to other predators as shifters. Honestly who would find a shifter bunny rabbit sexy, well ok, what woman would find a bunny rabbit sexy (although shifter bunnies could really turn a story and could bring some interesting comic relief)?
So, we need predators and strong ones at that.. Ones with dominant male leaders, or at least ones that seem to have hold of the females in their world. After the shifters we fall for all tend to be alphas, so we need alpha animals or gorgeous ones. Leopards, Tigers, Lions, Wolves, etc.. We really don't want snakes or rodents or vultures, although some birds are acceptable like Eagles, Hawks no sparrows or hummingbirds need apply. I will admit that Nalini Singh uses rats and they are actually a likeable subset AND I do wonder if she is going to give the leader of the Rat Pack (couldn't help myself) a HEA. And she does mention snake shifters as gorgeous and other worldly but we have never actually seen one. Wonder if one will show up eventually.
We also accept that other animals of mythos make excellent shifters, Dragons and Gryphons to name a couple. As yet I haven't seen a Unicorn (oops Thea Harrison has one and while she is a female, she is a very powerful shifter. Even if she is rare and slightly exotic) or a Pegasus shifter but if one appeared I feel it would be accepted because they are creatures of myth.
We now have our traditional subset.. Good looking strong animals make good looking strong shifters, ugly, squirmy, slimy or gross animals make bad ones. I suppose we could have them as villains but then the authors would have this “need” to twist them as well. Make them sexy (like Jessica Andersen did with her Final Prophecy Series, while they weren't shifters the king was of the Snake clan).
The lines have been drawn but that leaves an awful lot of gray area. I know I mentioned the ones that we wouldn't accept such as bunnies, sparrows and hummingbirds.. BUT they could be used, there could be shifters of these types. They could serve a purpose and I will discuss that at a later time.
Shelly Laurenston has an entire different concept with her shifters, she has managed to make Jackals sexy.. and wild dogs? Well they are just insane. But she has lions and Tigers and Bears and Jackals and foxes and.. yeah I am thinking she would shift just about anything and make it work.
But again there are gray areas.. What about horses? Would they not be awesome shifters? What girl wouldn't instantly swoon if she met a sexy shifter horse? They are historically strong, take care of their own and are willing to fight to the death for what is theirs. Yes they tend to be more of a poly type animal no mating for life but then many of the large cats only meet and mate then run off to leave the children to be raised by the females of the species and yet we swoon for shifter cats. So a horse shifter could become a viable shifter subject. I await the writer who shifts horses and a Pegasi and... well let's see what they can come up with next.
What animal would you like to see shifted? And Why? Let me hear your thoughts.
I would like to thank the awesome author Sara Humphreys for the idea behind this post.. She teased us with a horse comment on facebook sigh, no she isn't going to have a horse shifter but she did make me thing.