So I'm up visiting my mom and I'm reading her books. Right now I'm in the middle of Christine Warren's Wolf at the Door, part of a paranormal series about shifters.
Now, most of the shifters are the usual type one finds in paranormal romances -- the girl is an American Foxwoman, which means she can shift back and forth from a fox at will, and the guy is an Irish werewolf, who can shift back and forth from a wolf unless the moon is full, in which case he has to be a wolf. Okay, fine. Then the girl gets this summons from a vampire who's clearly one of the bad guys, and she meets a couple of new people.
She stepped closer to the fire, watching as the shadows on the furniture distilled into distinct shapes. Two figures sat at either end of an old-fashioned, camelback sofa upholstered on claret velvet. On one side, the firelight reached just far enough into the darkness to gild the edges of a woman's smooth, honey-colored complexion. Marie-Claudette Touleine, priestess, voudun, and altogether terrifying woman of power.
Cassidy felt a surge of awareness in her gut, and reluctantly looked to the other side of the sofa. In the second seat, the light held even less sway, but she could still make out the scarified visage of an ebony-skinned man of indeterminate age. Thabo Ngala. Animus.
Neither witch nor sorcerer, animi figured sparsely in the history of the Others of the Western world. They appreared chiefly in the aboriginal cultures of Africa, Australia, and South America. They possessed the ability to take animal shapes, but unlike werefolk, they could assume more than one; and unlike a Foxwoman, their change was not merely a shift in form.
An animus took the shape of an animal through sympathetic magic. He needed to drape himself in the skin of the animal, or wear a bracelet made of its teeth, or a necklace of its claws. He had to use the power inherent in the animal in order to mirror not only its form, but its spirit. When the animus took the shape of a leopard, he didn't become a man in a leopard's body. He became the leopard, his mind thinking the thoughts of the leopard and his soul raging as the soul of the leopard.
They were powerful and dangerous magicians who could be consumed with the predatory instincts of their animal forms, whereas a were or other shifter retained the morality of a human mind. Maybe it was a good thing they were so rare.
Yeah, good thing there aren't very many of those brown, aboriginal shifters around -- they're dangerous! Savage, animal, no human morals.... o_O Totally unlike the shifters of European descent, who retain their humanity in animal form and can choose to be good or evil. Those brown ones, they can't help being predatory, it's just how they are, and that's why he's hanging with the bad guys.
And of course, the voodoo lady is scary too, and also hangs with the bad guys.
Right. I wonder whether Ms. Warren had any clue how that reads, when she wrote it? :/ Probably not; I'm willing to bet she's completely oblivious. Which doesn't exonerate her, of course, but rather makes her just one more white person with unconscious, unexamined race issues. There's a set of racist concepts and ideas lurking in the back of her brain which made it feel natural to her to make the shifters from native African, Australian and South American traditions more bestial and less moral than the white shifters. Which is about the level of racism one finds in most white people who haven't consciously examined the issues and taken a scrub brush to their own brain. Which most people never do, as clearly Ms. Warren has not. [sigh]