Friday, February 5, 2010

Werelions, weretigers, wearbears, oh my?

Readers of popular paranormal romantic fiction have likely noticed a shift (if you'll pardon the pun) in the genre. While vampires are still hot, they are sharing the spotlight more and more with their counterpart, the werewolf. And it's not just werewolves. All variety of werecreatures are claiming their share of page time in recent releases. Weretigers, werepanthers, even werefoxes have been introduced into popular fiction.

Sometimes, the character is a "true were", a creature that can only change from human form to one particular animal form, like Faythe, the main character and werecat in Rachel Vincent's Shifter series. In other instances, the character is a "shifter", a creature that can change from human form into any other animal form of their choosing, like Sam Merlotte in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series.

In all of the were and shifter books that I've read, one theme seems constant. No matter what animal (or animals) the shape shifting character can turn in to, the characteristics generally associated with that animal are true of the character in their human form as well. Sam Merlotte, for example, is a loyal, steadfast man who is devoted to those he cares about. The form he takes most frequently (though he can adopt any form) is a dog. Not just any dog, but a collie. The favored animal form represents the man seamlessly.

Above: Sam the man
Below: Sam the dog. Notice, he's still wearing flannel

So, I pose a chicken-or-the-egg type question. In stories of weres and shifters, do you think the human character subconsciously adopts the traits most associated with their animal form, or do you think that the animal form is a manifestation of qualities the human poses? If you suddenly found out you had the ability to shift, what animal would you become?

I don't have an answer for the first question, though I'd love to hear some theories. As for the second, if I were to suddenly find myself with the ability to shape shift, I would definitely be a cat. Not a big, exotic cat, sadly. No, I'd be a common house cat. I like to be pampered, but only when I want the attention. I'm finicky. I'm not particularly fond of water. I have moments of crazed activity followed by hours of napping in the sunlight. I can amuse myself for hours on end with nonsensical stuff. And, I'm secretly bent on world domination. ;)

What would you be?



  1. I love Sam, too! Even more in the books than in the show.

  2. I'd be a hawk or eagle. I'd love to be able to fly and I'd want to be the top of the food chain, whatever species I might be. *G*

  3. Good choice, Lori! Flight has some definite perks, and being at the top of the food chain is pretty sweet, too.

  4. I would be a bat! I mean honestly, I wouldn't need my contacts anymore since sonar is all the vogue. I could give rabies to the people that get on my nerves. And if I'm super lucky, I might even meet the vampire of my dreams on one of my nightly jaunts. ;p

  5. It was a close race with the

  6. You and your pegicorns! Have you forgotten the prestige and shifterly benefits of the liger? "Bred for its skills in magic?". Really Kristen, I'm disappointed ;)

  7. But the world deserves more of me in future generations, a department the liger is sadly lacking in.

  8. I think I would be a were lion