Review: Frozen in Amber by Phillis Ames

August 6, 2015 Review 0

Review: Frozen in Amber by Phillis AmesFrozen in Amber by Phyllis Ames
Published by Daw Books on August 4th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to sex.
Reviewed by: Kim
2 Stars

Amber Treganis constantly reinvents herself. New clothes, new hairstyle, new car—anything she can do to exert a level of control over her life. What she can't control is her shape-shifting other self: the WerCougar that sinks its claws into her brain during the three nights surrounding the full moon.

Though she is a natural-born shifter from a prominent WerCougar family, Amber has been unwilling to change into her cat form ever since a terrible tragedy cost her the man she loved. And she has little patience with Wers of any species who embrace their otherness more than their humanity. She focuses on her life as a defense attorney in Mt. Hood, and stays out of Wer politics.

But after a blurry night of hunting, Amber begins to notice changes in her transformation. When she hears rumors of research to discover a treatment for shifting, she suspects she may have been unknowingly given the experimental therapy.

With the help of Adler, a WerEagle active in community politics, Amber tries to hunt down the truth about this cure, while staying off the radar of the FBI, which tracks and manages Wer communities in secret.

But Amber doesn't realize how much she depends on her Wer sense until, one by one, they begin to fade. And Amber is left increasingly ill—and increasingly human. Can shifter who is losing her abilities survive for long in either human or Wer society?

FROZEN IN AMBER is part legal drama, and part were-cougar coming of age story, with a little bit of family craziness and gene-splicing mixed in. But if you add in very few moments of levity and what felt like an artificially drawn-out plot, and you have a potentially interesting book that misses the mark. And then there is the end, which I had to read twice to make sure I actually got.

There are a lot of characters, but they are interesting characters. Were-creatures can either be bitten or born, and it made for an interesting class-structure, where born weres had better control over their shifting abilities and are therefore of more value to the society. Readers are also treated to a glimpse of other were-creatures, like eagles, who I found way cooler and smooth than their snarly, growly counterparts. The cat/dog interactions were often interesting, and although there were what I felt was many plot holes, the overall plot came to an okay ending.

The main thing that got on my nerves was that most of the plot was fabricated or lengthened by the fact that Amber refused to tell anyone about major issues or her suspicions before everything went to hell. For example. multiple times Amber thinks to herself "that secret new evil wolf we are hearing about couldn't actually be that annoying new, aggressive character who has just popped up, acting all entitled and suspicious. I'll just demote her and not think of her any more." As a reader it was such an obvious giveaway that it took away the power of all the foreshadowing. I just wanted to shake her.

On the flip side, her desire to be private does work with the character and with the general lore of the world. Wolves work in packs, and are loyal to the wolf who bites them. Cougars are solitary, rarely knowing their extended family or even their own fathers. They work alone, are highly territorial and private. You don't sit in a cougar's chair unless you want to start a fight.

The conflict between their animal natures and their human relationships drives this book, with different characters reacting one way or another depending both on their animal and on the level of socialisation. Amber is constantly held up as an example of ideal humanisation, but even she reverts to her instincts of secrecy for most of the book.

Even with some good lore, and a romantic plot that was actually fun to follow, FROZEN IN AMBER just didn't do it for me.

Series Titles:
  • NA
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