Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.
In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.
Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.
Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?
When I first heard about The Wanderers by Kate Ormand, I became completely enamored with the storyline. It’s not every day that you get to meet a main character who can shape-shift into a horse (and I LOVE horses–favorite childhood animal!). Then you get the beautiful cover which pretty ups your bookshelf and makes you want to pet it all day (totally did btw).
The Wanderers is the first book in a series about a shape-shifting girl who lives in a circus with other shape-shifters. In order to hide from those who are out to get them, they provide entertainment, hiding in plain sight. So when all shape-shifters reach age 16, they must perform to earn their keep. However, our main character Flo is afraid of messing up her performance. The pressure of being the only shape-shifting horse and being under the watchful eye of hunters, makes her mess up her fire ring performance and shift back to her human form, causing chaos, the hunters to attack, and make a run for her life.
This book is imaginative and harsh. The Wanderers terribly reflects how the life at a circus, especially to animals, is actually like. Each human in this book represents what I believe every animal who’s been subjected to mistreatment and to perform for the sake of living feels like. It’s downright awful and depressing.
The life Flo leads in the circus is not pretty, yet the only life she has ever known. Her world is basically wherever the circus goes. Since the circus is full of orphaned kids, they are her family. When the hunters attack and many are caught up in it, it brings a whole pang of grief to Flo because she is the one who accidentally revealed their disguise.
To make the story a bit lighter, there’s a bit of romance in it between Flo and Jet, a shape-shifting bear. I wasn’t particularly fond of it since the romance already existed, so it didn’t let me fall in love, and that’s what I love the most when reading. However, they are both strong characters and do fit well together.
Final Verdict: From what I thought would be just a cutesy read, The Wanderers ended up being quite the shocking, bloody read. I do recommend!