Bourke's Bookshelf: A walk on the wild side
This week's featured read is "House of Stars" by local author Jennifer Schultz.
For this week’s spooky season feature, we move away from the mystery genre and into the paranormal world of shapeshifters. Set in the woods of Duluth and the vast wilderness of Yellowstone National Park is a tale of people who aren’t just ordinary people and wolves who are more than wild beasts.
Released in 2021, “House of Stars” is the second by Pequot Lakes native Jennifer Schultz and the sequel to her first full-length novel, “Hearts of Prey.”
I’d recommend starting out with “ Hearts of Prey ” to get to know Shaka Reed, a 20-something woman striving for a sense of belonging when she feels so alone in the world with her supernatural ability. Shaka and her grandfather can both shapeshift into wolves, and they don’t know anyone else like them.
‘House of Stars’ by Jennifer Schultz
After facing serious, life-threatening — and life-altering — trials in the first novel, Shaka is back for another story. She’s trying to figure out where she belongs in a world that isn’t made for people like her. Her wolf side wants to run free in the great outdoors, and she found the rugged terrain of Yellowstone National Park calling to her while on a road trip out to California.
But her human side still enjoys city life and the connections she has with her family, her best friend and her boyfriend, Adrian, even if he doesn’t fully understand the wild wolf within her.
That’s why Shaka is so incredibly conflicted when she learns of a whole pack of wolf shifters living in a commune deep within Yellowstone, where they’re essentially free to shift when they want and embrace their inner wolves as they please. She finally feels a sense of belonging — people who understand her to her core and aren’t judgmental when she comes in from a run, covered in dirt and maybe even animal blood. In fact, they’re right there with her.
But still, Shaka doesn’t know if the pack life is for her and if she wants to be bound by the alpha’s rules, even if that alpha is a tall, muscular blond with piercing eyes and a captivating, wild manner. He’s so different from Adrian and already shares something so intimate with Shaka.
As Shaka’s inner turmoil persists, so does that of her friend, Rena, who we learn a lot more about in the second novel. Rena has paranormal powers, too. She can see people’s thoughts just by touching their hand, and can send the history of an object by picking it up. But her powers are beginning to overwhelm her, as is her deep sense of loneliness.
The third person narrative shifts focus back and forth between Shaka and Rena, as each woman longs to be understood and loved.
I found the storylines in “House of Stars” just as engaging as those in “Hearts of Prey,” and I sped through the book nearly as quickly. I appreciated the ending, which I felt both satisfied my curiosities about Shaka’s future and opened the world up to a whole new story that I can’t wait to read.
For a story complete with supernatural beings, thrilling twists and a little bit of romance, I highly suggest checking out Schultz’s works.