||Blue Merle Publishing
Librarian/dog-shifters struggle, under an ordinary public library, to save the knowledge of the world from book-burning werewolves.
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Love dogs? Love books? Love libraries? Hate Book-burning werewolves?
Once long ago the Shipsfeather Academy was a training ground for an ancient race of dog-shifters whose mission was to protect the world’s knowledge. A powerful curse sealed these librarians in the basement of their building and gave the control of the town to a pack of book-burning werewolves.
Librarian Liberty Cutter watches in horror as the town’s public library goes up in flames and plans to re-establish the library in the abandoned Shipsfeather Academy building. Chronus, the Old English Sheepdog headmaster of the academy and leader of the dog-shifters, knows he must make some changes to continue to keep his pack safe. But even if he could persuade Liberty to believe in a talking sheepdog, how far can she be trusted? And will she ever be able to care for him as a man. He has to try, because Liberty Cutter and her staff of zany librarians may hold the key to the dog-shifters’ freedom…and the future of the town.
"But...it all sounds like something straight out of a fantasy novel! You can't really expect me to believe..." She didn't finish. Was believing in werewolves and a school for dog-shifters so much more difficult than believing in the talking dog who sat before her?
Chronus’s big head nodded. “Can I trust you to keep all I say in strictest confidence?”
“Of course. Who would believe me?” She rolled her eyes. “One single word about a talking dog and no one would stay around long enough to listen to the shapeshifting part.”
“You have a point. Modern culture ignores what it deems impossible. That’s one of the reasons I chose this site for our school. Mid-Western Americans are such gullible skeptics. As long as the surface seems normal, they don’t want to believe there could be more.”
“Let me tell you about what is not seen. You call this the library basement. Below are two more levels.”
She looked down at the oak floor. “The whole shapeshifting school is beneath me?”
“The first sub-level is our school and library. We have a library about the size of yours in terms of volumes. No duplicates, of course.”
Liberty remembered her first exploration of the old building, when she had squeezed through the small flap in the door and gone down the stairs to the level below her office. She remembered the sign that read “Library.” That was where she had first met Chronus. Since that day the door to the janitorial closet had been locked, and she had been too busy with other things to wonder why. Now she knew.
“You have real librarians working down there? Now?” She’d begun to whisper as if beings below her feet could hear.
“Some are librarians. Others have worked in libraries for a very long time, before formal trainings were available. And many others are what I call scholar librarians, familiar with languages and the history of specific areas of the world.”
"This basement couldn’t hold that many books.”
“To clarify, our levels are larger than the footprint of this building. We have a lot of space. The lowest level is like a hotel. Perhaps resort would be a better description. We have rooms for all our librarians, scholars, faculty, workers, and students.”
“They sleep there?”
“What did you think?” His gentle chuckle echoed in the room.
“I don’t know. They disappear?”
“Temporary invisibility can be very useful during shifts. But it’s a very advanced skill that takes a lot of energy. Mostly we rely on humans’ inability to see the impossible.”
Aria’s Dark Musings
“I simply adored this book... Quirky, quaint, and romantic, Amber Polo has delivered a breath of fresh air to this book blogger that was desperately needed. Once in a while, you come across a story that isn't the newest most popular book obsession but is so worthy of being happily recommended that you know your book vacation would have been a little less sunny without it. And here it is...”
I found the premise of shapeshifting dog librarians not only fun and fascinating, but also convincing and possible. I’ve often suspected librarians and dogs as having much more colorful lives than meets the eye. After all, librarians have all the knowledge of the world at their fingertips and can answer any question given enough time to research it. The domestic dog has over 400 distinctly different-looking breeds, all cultivated from the genes of the ancient grey wolf. If any critter can shapeshift or hide its talents in plain sight, it has to be the “ordinary” dog. Blend these two versatile elements – the humble dog and the humble librarian – as cleverly as Polo does in The Shapeshifters’ Library: Released, and you’ve got, voila, a well-considered, zany fantasy.
I don't think I've read a fantasy novel since Wizard of Oz when I was a child. But when this book was recommended to me by one of my favorite authors, Donna Ball, and saw it featured dogs and libraries, I was anxious to give it a try. And I really enjoyed it. Once I wrapped my head around dog shifter librarians and book burning werewolves, I realized this is a ridiculously creative story!! The secret world created by Amber Polo is pure magic and utterly unique.
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