Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Short Story Review: Shifting is for the Goyim by Elizabeth Zelvin

Shifting is For the Goyim (Short Story)

Author: Elizabeth Zelvin

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Synopsis: Home for Passover with the family? Or a full-moon run with a werewolf pack? When Amy Greenstein, aka Emerald Love, nice Jewish girl and rising country music star, says good-bye to her boyfriend after a show in Nashville, she doesn't know she'll never see him again. Good thing she's a shapeshifter. She'll need to use her paranormal skills to find the killer of the man she loved.

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Warning: Spoilers ahead. It cannot be helped when I find the need to rant.

Review: This short story was probably one of the most ridiculous shorts I have ever read. I couldn’t stop laughing from the utter absurdity of it and was grateful it was only twenty-three pages long, or else I wouldn’t have been able to finish it.

Amy Greenstein, who spends the majority of this short story using her stage name Emerald Love, is a singer who also happens to be a shapeshifter. She heads home from a performance to hang out with her Jewish family for the holidays when her singing voice suddenly disappears then she receives the tragic news that her fiancé has been murdered. Amy rushes Asherville to find out the truth behind Michael’s death and find the killer.

Now, the premise sounds interesting enough and mixing in a variety of shapeshifters sounds as if the story will hold some really good depth, but it was neither interesting nor convincing.

Amy a.k.a Emerald is selfish, full of herself, and really not that likeable. She is the narrator of the story, which made getting through it both boring and sigh inducing. She just never comes off realistic. She’s really the only character the audience gets to know outside of Sergeant Roy Thompson and her sister Wendy. Sergeant Roy Thompson was nice enough but he was the typical, stereotype people believe a small town cop would be like. Wendy was just a MESS. If that girl were my sister, I would have given her a good whoppin’!

The main faults lie in HOW the story is told and WHAT HAPPENS. Everything is TOLD to the reader and told at the speed of light. Amy gets home to her family then suddenly loses her voice then suddenly is able to get her voice back then suddenly gets the news her fiancé was murdered then suddenly discovers who the killer is. Key word being SUDDENLY. There is no time for the reader to absorb anything or to get to know Amy’s family or even her relationship with Michael. Michael is barely in the story so the relationship between him and Amy never felt real. Amy seemed to care more about Michael because he wrote some of her number one hits than actually being in love with him.

The ending nearly gave me an aneurysm! Wendy decided to misread Michael’s friendliness from months before and sneaks off to Asherville, where Michael is hanging out in a cabin in the mountains, writing music and running with his wolf pack. She sneaks into his cabin, proceeds to undress and wait in his bed for him when he gets out of the shower. Michael, of course, is outraged and tells her to leave. But what made this scene even more RIDICULOUS is the fact that Michael sends Wendy off to a bar to meet up with some other shifter who can shift into the same animal she can. She meets up with some guy and decides it would be fun to run in the woods and have sex with him. Michael shows up (Wendy thinks he was going after her to make sure she was okay) and the guy Wendy is hooking up with determines Michael is a threat and kills him, thinking he’s protecting Wendy.

Oh but the ending gets worse. While Wendy is revealing this oh so sweet story to her dear big sister, who has shifted in the form of a cheetah and pinned her sister down, Amy SINGS to Wendy the questions she wants to ask because, apparently Wendy’s singing voice, has the magical ability to make someone unable to move as long as she sings to them. Yes, I’m being serious.

I’m sure somewhere in this story there’s potential, but the execution needed (a lot of) work.

About the Author: Elizabeth Zelvin is a New York City psychotherapist who has directed alcoholism treatment programs, including one on the Bowery, where her debut mystery from St. Martin's, DEATH WILL GET YOU SOBER, begins. A related story, "Death Will Clean Your Closet," was nominated for an Agatha award for Best Short Story. Liz currently does online therapy and is working on more in the series. 

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