Topic Spotlight: Shapeshifters
By Marie on Jan 16th, 2015
In the relationship with the heroine, their 'animal nature' also provides for compelling dynamics (and I am not talking about sex here). Shapeshifting heroes are not only borrowing extra physical abilities from their animal counterparts, their behaviour also tends to be on the wild side. And this is where the shifter-as-romantic-hero trope becomes interesting: Romance novels regularly have to navigate a peculiar problem. Behaviour by the male protagonist which completely works as part of a fantasy, would be entirely unacceptable in reality. For example, reading about a jealous, possessive, controlling, short tempered hero is fun for a lot of readers, for those attributes are used to cement the heroine's status as his one and only, his centre of the world, the one thing he cannot live without, love beyond reason… On the other hand, the reader might wonder why the heroine would put up with a jerk? Shapeshifters provide an easy out here. Otherwise unacceptable behaviour is excused as being driven by instinct, outside the control of the hero, definitely outside of the control of a good therapist. On the one hand, the hero's questionable conduct can drive the plot, create tension between the heroine and himself, yet at the same time remains beyond reproach as it is his 'nature'. By creating a character which is half man/ half animal, a certain amount of the hero's personal accountability is thrown out of the window. For the reader it means that they can enjoy a leading man who demonstrates all the bad behaviour that we loathe/love, without having to question the ethics of his actions too much. What do you think is the allure of shifter heroes?