Flashback Fridays: Ch-ch-ch-changes . . .

You’re a daughter of a vain television star who has been invited to Nantucket Island to meet with a very special “fan club”.  She’s bringing you along, and the “fan club” has even given you a curious amulet to wear.  Strange things start happening on the island . . . and it seems the people there are much more interested in you. . .

Do you remember:


Isle of the Shapeshifters by Otto Coontz (Bantam, c1983)

Young Theo journeys to Nantucket island with her mother when a local fan club invites mother and daughter along for a special event.  From the moment Theo sets foot on the island, she senses something strange is going on.  People seem more interested in her than her mother–and she’s nothing special.  The weather patterns become strange and unnerving and dangerous. Her only friend in  young Kip.  He’s grown up on the island and befriends this visiting girl.  He’s the first one who starts to realize that the natives of the island don’t care about Theo’s mother at all, they’re after Theo.  Because of her special bloodline that links her to the native tribes here, they have brought Theo to the island for an ancient ceremony.  One Theo will have to take place in whether she wants to or not!

I’ll be the first to admit that the overall plot arc is a bit of a B rated horror movie, only for kids.  That said, this particular book really stuck with me over the years despite the fact I only ever read it once.  It’s the book that first introduced me to the term “manitou”, though I can’t be sure the interpretation is faithful in the book to how manitous are actually understood by the Algonquin Natives.  A quick and thrilling read full of magic and myth.  The author clearly knows Nantucket well, and has gone to lengths to describe it in detail.  The setting is as much a character in this book as anything else.  The aspect of shapeshifters I discovered in this book was probably the first time I really encountered the concept.  Unlike current day where werewolves and shape-changing humans are fairly common in children’s fiction, I can’t remember a particular instance  before this one on the subject.

I took a look round the web for Otto Coontz. Mr. Coontz has written a small handful of other obscure works, most of which seem to be supernatural thrillers for kids, though I lack plot descriptions to be sure.  Sadly, there is no information on Mr. Coontz himself.  If anyone reading my blog knows of a resource that might have more info on this author, please let me know!

Have you read this book?  Let me know what you thought of it!  Comments welcome.

About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on December 14, 2013, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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