Author: Isabella Rowan
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Shape shifters
Length: Novel (195 pages)
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press / Dreamspinner (15 Oct 2019)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts
Blurb: Foxes are vermin.
Australian sheep farmers regard them as an enemy to be shot on sight and hung from the branches of an old gum tree.
But not all foxes are just foxes.
Connor Coutts could be the last surviving male Furborn in Victoria, maybe in the whole country, a heavy bur-den for a teenager. His life’s path is clear— protect what’s left of the Furborn line. That is until someone new arrives at the MacKenzie sheep farm. Spencer MacKenzie, with his long black hair and gothic style, is a strange sight in Connor’s forest, but Fate throws the two teenagers together to save their families.
Can Connor trust Spencer to keep his life-or-death secret, or will he hang on the tree?
Review: Furborn is a standalone young adult novel by Isabelle Rowen. This isn’t your usual paranormal, shape shifting human novel. There is something rather laid back about it, which makes it feel so obviously Australian (at least to me) and as a reader we aren’t being led to some massive apocolytic event and true mates. Instead this is a story about two teenage boys living out in the country on a farm. The setting made me think of classic Australian writer Colin Thiele, who I grow up reading books such as Storm Boy (Mr Percival the Pelican on the Coorong!) and Sun on Stubble (thought about this one as it was based around farm life, hence the title).
Foxes have always been the bane of farmer’s in Australia ever since they were introduced on the large island nation by early settlers. But, not all foxes are just foxes. Some foxes also have human skin. With an explanation of shape shifters that compares them to the myth of Selkies from Scotland, the scariest part of this story is the Furborn having to go against the hunters who need to get rid of the foxes that decimate chickens and the like, as well as damaging crops and fences. After all, many farmers believe that the only good fox is a dead fox.
Connor Coutts comes from an ancient line of furborns who turn into foxes. He’s a teenager on the cusp of being a man. There aren’t many left, and his grandmother – the matriarch of all that is left of his family – will do whatever it takes to ensure the family’s survival, now and into the future. Connor’s life turns upside down when Spencer Mackenzie arrives at the Mackenzie Sheep Farm. The Coutts are almost like a local legend and so Spencer’s grandfather finds Spencer and Connor hanging out together rather amusing.
Connor’s friendship with Spencer comes with a lot of changes. The two young men start to explore some more romantic feelings, while Connor knows he has to do all he must to protect his secret and his family. As their lives intertwine Connor begins to realise that perhaps there is another path for him in life. Being a teenager is difficult, but being a teenage furborn is stressful with so much secrecy and expectation.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect but I loved it, I could not put this down. The writing was so emotive without overloading the reader with more angst than necessary. There is so much sweetness and naivety that makes this a beautiful coming of age story. It just so happens that one boy is human and the other boy can turn into a fox.
For anyone that is looking for some YA fiction which doesn’t lead to a heap of post-apocolytic drama but still want your shape shifters, then this is a good book for you. The setting, out in regional Australia on farms, felt so wonderful and was really realistic. I think that was my favourite part of the book.